Apr 18 2017

Is Alex Jones Faking?

alex-jonesAlex Jones is famous for his Infowars program in which he, often red-faced and ranting, promotes all kinds of absurd conspiracy theories. He claims the Sandy Hook massacre was a “false flag” operation (and pretty much every similar event – all staged by the government. He claimed that Obama and Hillary Clinton were literally demons.

The enduring question (at least for me) has been – to what extent does Jones actually believe the stuff that he says? I phrase it that way because belief is not necessarily binary (I don’t want to commit a false dichotomy logical fallacy). He may believe some of the stuff he says to some extent, but then exaggerates and gets into speculation, or simply not care about the veracity of his claims.

Clearly he has a shtick and it’s paying off well for him.

I have not taken on Jones directly (I have addressed many of the claims he supports) because I haven’t found it to be worthwhile so far. His character is clearly a nutjob, to put it bluntly, and I suspected not entirely sincere, and overall I thought it best to ignore him.

However, a recent development is interesting and worth noting. Jones is in a custody battle with his ex-wife for their children. She is claiming that he is unstable, dangerous, and not fit to be a father. Her main source of evidence is the Infowars program. She claims this is his real persona.

This is how his attorney responded on his behalf:

At a recent pretrial hearing, attorney Randall Wilhite told state District Judge Orlinda Naranjo that using his client Alex Jones’ on-air Infowars persona to evaluate Alex Jones as a father would be like judging Jack Nicholson in a custody dispute based on his performance as the Joker in “Batman.”

“He’s playing a character,” Wilhite said of Jones. “He is a performance artist.”

That would seem to put Jones in a difficult position, but probably not as much as you might hope. Jones’s attorney is confirming what many people have suspected – Jones is playing his audience. He knows his audience and he is simply feeding them exactly what they want, in dramatic fashion.

It is certainly easy to interpret Infowars as a deliberate and calculated performance. In this way he would be like Sylvia Browne. There is reason to suspect she was also playing her audience and didn’t believe a word she said.

In a way this makes sense, the best performers would be ones who know exactly what they are doing, unconstrained by reality or ethics, they could craft their message for optimal ratings.

If true, Jones would be the perfect symbol for our post-fact, fake news world. Infowars is not news, it is a parody of the news crafted to cater to a specific narrative and audience. It is, in fact, all entertainment pretending to be news. But it always takes itself seriously. Jones never drops the act.

This means that he can, when convenient, simply hide behind the claim that Infowars is all performance, and was never intended to be actual news. If his audience misinterpreted fantasy as reality, that’s on them. This is the ultimate blurring of the lines between satire (like The Onion) and fake news. In this way Infowars is like Fox News (which in my opinion is clearly narrative driven and caters to a certain audience) just more extreme.

You might think, well the con is up. If Jones admits its all BS how can his audience take him seriously anymore? Speaking through his attorney gives him only the slightest sliver of denial. His lawyer must be speaking on his behalf, and Jones will have to sign-off on any documents filed by his lawyer in the case. They are, effectively, his words.

But here is the beauty of catering to an audience of conspiracy theorists. They will simply assume that Jones was forced to admit this by the powers that be. This will now just become another conspiracy, The Man trying to discredit Jones for calling them out on all their actual conspiracies. Jones will never have to actually even say this (and risk perjury). He doesn’t have to do anything, or he might give the barest hint that something nefarious is going on and let his audience fill in the gaps.

That is the nature of conspiracy theories. They are immune to evidence. Any evidence against the conspiracy is simply part of the conspiracy. Any missing evidence for the conspiracy is covered up. Everything is a false flag, a deception. This means that you can construct and maintain a conspiracy narrative out of anything – any facts that happen to exist. Conspiracy theories are compatible with any reality, because they just make up ad-hoc explanations for everything within the conspiracy narrative.

So I don’t expect this trial to have any effect on the Infowars audience. In fact, the controversy will just feed them more.

132 responses so far

132 Responses to “Is Alex Jones Faking?”

  1. goldfinchon 18 Apr 2017 at 9:28 am

    Will be interesting to see what the kids say. One is 14 years old. That child can be a good witness and is old enough to express their desires. And what other witnesses say.

    The judge has said the case isn’t about Inforwars and shouldn’t be about Infowars. Well, how he conducts Inforwars is evidence of his suitability as a parent. I would argue that even if it is performance art people don’t understand it that way. It isn’t like the movies, where everyone knows it is pretend. How can his kids know it is pretend?

    But as you say, the true believers will think that he has to put on an act for the trial or he will lose his children.

  2. pdeboeron 18 Apr 2017 at 9:40 am

    @ goldfinch –
    I think the argument Jones’ attorney is making is that Jones doesn’t act like he does on Infowars at home, and so that can’t be used as an example of his character as a parent. His children wouldn’t need to recognize that his character is a put on as long as he doesn’t behave erratically at home.

    Also, I doubt the true believers would conclude that he put on an act for the court, as that would be admitting that he deceived the court for his own gain. I think Steve’s prediction is more likely.

    You might be right though. So many Trump supporters are behind everything he did to benefit himself at the expense of others. They admire the cunning and boldness it takes to be an asshole.

  3. goldfinchon 18 Apr 2017 at 9:46 am

    He does well, I see that he pays his ex wife $43,000 a month in support and she currently has custody. I think it is a long shot he will win unless the 14 year old boy wants to be with his dad and the boy doesn’t come across as equally deranged. But even then it is a stretch. His behaviour regarding Sandy Hook is evidence of his unfitness to parent, even it is fake. That might even be worse as it shows he doesn’t care what effect his behavior has on others.

  4. Dobbleron 18 Apr 2017 at 9:58 am

    I think framing it in terms of whether he believes it or not is not exactly right. I think the same is true when trying to determine to what degree Trump believes some of his most outrageous claims. Here’s what I mean:

    The way most, or at least plenty of people, think about declarative statements, is that they are a reflection of a considered belief. They are just taking a “thought belief” and turning it into a “word belief”. I don’t think that Jones, at least not in the context of his show, considers declarations that way. They are not a reflection of a mental state. They are an action. He is concerned with what he is doing (the results of his speech), not what he is saying(the content of his speech). We’ve probably all focused on speech as a means to an end before, so it shouldn’t actually be that hard to imagine. People like Jones and Trump just take this to an extreme, and it seems to represent the only way that they approach (at least public) speech.

    I suppose, if you accept my framing, you could still ask the question of how much they believe those things they say, and if they were capable of giving a thoughtful and self-aware response, I suspect the answer would be something along the lines of “I never gave it much thought”.

  5. MosBenon 18 Apr 2017 at 10:29 am

    This isn’t terribly far from how Fox has characterized their more popular shows (Hannity, Fox & Friends, etc.), as entertainment rather than news programs.

  6. jhayesdoon 18 Apr 2017 at 10:52 am

    He produces the show in his home and part of the wife’s complaint is that the kids are present when he is doing his performance art.

  7. Sophieon 18 Apr 2017 at 11:13 am

    Novella: “I have not taken on Jones directly (I have addressed many of the claims he supports) because I haven’t found it to be worthwhile so far.”

    Alex Jones’ radio show, in all its different platforms, has millions of listeners. Like you said, he’s infamous for pushing fake news. Infowars is in the top 750 most visited sites in the USA. He endorsed Trump early on, hosted him, Trump told him “I won’t let you down.”

    Given all of that. It’s kinda hard to see how a skeptic can justify that it’s not really “worthwhile” to take on what is essentially the antithesis of skepticism. Especially how you and the SGU said nothing about the Trump-Jones connection before the election. We can point to infowars, and say: “hey look, this is why critical thinking matters, because millions of people really believe these crazy conspiracy theories propped up on fallacies. So much so, that it had an effect on the election.”

    I don’t really understand what you mean by “worthwhile” and depending on how you choose to define that, will give you the necessary wiggle room to escape any criticism.

    I don’t like Alex Jones, but I don’t really see how what his lawyer said about his performance matters. It’s a divorce, obviously the worst possible statements/claims are going to come out.

    Alex Jones fans will look at these critiques and see how it’s essentially an ad hominem based on out of context snippets of his behavior. I’ve met Alex Jones briefly and he was a really calm person in real life. If you go and check out interviews with him and the majority of his content he isn’t always screaming. In fact the majority of his 2+ hour show he isn’t freaking out screaming at the top his lungs and speaking in a hysterical way. If all you do is watch the compilations of him screaming like a child you are missing the actual reality of the situation.

  8. goldfinchon 18 Apr 2017 at 11:33 am

    It isn’t about whether he is calm in real life. And raising character issues is not an ad hominem attack as character matters in custody arrangements. The issue is what is in the best interests of the children. Jones, whether a performance artist or a fruitcake, has no regard for the truth and he speaks threatening words in a show that many people believe is passing along truth. Is it in the best interests of the children to live day in and day out with such a father? Or are they better served living with their mother? That is the issue in court.

    In the court of public opinion probably little will change.

  9. Sylakon 18 Apr 2017 at 11:37 am

    His ex wife said he was recording shows at home, saying things like “this or that persons should be strangle” or other classic violent conspiracy rhetoric. He have a big studio now, but he used to do that from home ( he might still do), during the time his children were young. I think the ex-wife’s lawyers are going with this angle, He was indeed like that at home. I’m also pretty sure that if a famous actor or actress was to play a role that could traumatized his/her kids, they won’t rehearse in front of them or loud enough in their house so they can hear. If that person is sane, of course. I really hope he doesn’t have custody. If he believes, he is crazy, and if he doesn’t believe , he’s a con artist. Both options are a bad environment for kids and teenagers. I just hope none of them turn like him. There’s already a lot of quack using and dragging their kids into their BS.

  10. Karl Withakayon 18 Apr 2017 at 11:46 am

    Considering how many people thought the Stephen Colbert character in the Colbert Report played by Stephen Colbert was either straight legit or a double parody, I’m not surprised that people take Alex Jones at full face value.

  11. Sophieon 18 Apr 2017 at 11:46 am

    If I wanted to defend Alex Jones, I would mention how it’s fascinating that despite all the claims of how unstable he is, there is no single claim of physical abuse. How is it that such a brash, chauvinistic, hot blooded Texan, with an apparently uncontrollable temper, doesn’t take out his anger physically?

    That would fit the narrative perfectly, and it’s a great argument to make in a divorce case. It’s in her best interest to make that argument. The fact that it’s not being made, means there is likely no evidence to support such an argument, and therefore we end up here, with her claiming that his outbursts on TV are evidence of his instability and why he is unfit to be a parent.

  12. Sarahon 18 Apr 2017 at 12:21 pm

    I always caution against assuming we can know for sure anything about the inner workings of someone’s mind, particularly if all we have is a public view.

    Knowledge statements like that are premature.

  13. MaryMon 18 Apr 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Wait, Alex Jones says that Alex Jones is a fake flag?

    I’m so confused every day in the new normal. Sigh.

  14. Creeping Malaiseon 18 Apr 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Of course Alex Jones is faking. The guy is a talented and articulate performance artist who’s made millions of dollars selling snake oil to gullible tinfoil-hatters.

  15. Sophieon 18 Apr 2017 at 1:10 pm

    This isn’t a simple issue, it’s a divorce case. There are millions of dollars at stake. The wife’s attorney has an objective and is using motivated reasoning. You can’t ignore that and just take it all as unquestionable facts just because you don’t like Alex Jones. I don’t stop being a critical thinker when presented with evidence against someone I hate, and neither should you.

    You can also see from the comments that people are equating what his lawyer said with what he said. Source amnesia… Alex himself did not say he was just faking it on air. Neither did the lawyer. Steven said he is “faking.”

    The lawyer said it was a character and that Jones is a performance artist. You can play a character and perform and still have a point. In fact it can be argued that Rachel Maddow plays a hyperbolic hand-waving “character” on air. Or that Anderson Cooper, plays a really stern “character.” If you are claiming that Alex Jones is fake because his lawyer said he’s a performance artist, you are also inadvertently implying that real news, mainstream news, doesn’t use media trained professionals, that “act” a certain way on air.

    Attacking someone’s character, instead of what they actually said/did, is the definition of an ad hominem. We all know that claiming that his behavior on air must be the same as his behavior off air is illogical, right? This is because we do it too, everyday. We all put up a facade when in public, we don’t act like our truest selves at work.

    His job happens to be exposing the world’s biggest evil grand conspiracies. He believes there is a war on for your mind, everyone is being brainwashed and that the end is coming. No one is listening to his wisdom and paying attention. He believes he is under constant surveillance by big brother. He believes that the governments of the world are secretly controlled and working to depopulate the planet. Imagine if you believed that what you were doing was the most important thing in the world, no one was following your advice, they all just kept marching towards their demise?

    You would logically expect someone in a situation like that to be very frustrated and express that frustration every once in a while. You could even describe it as psychologically healthy. I would much rather someone like this to express their anger in the form of rants and outbursts on air.

  16. daedalus2uon 18 Apr 2017 at 1:53 pm

    There is nothing illegal about pretending to be someone that you are not. There is nothing illegal in pretending to be a deranged conspiracy theorist. There is nothing illegal in actually being a deranged conspiracy theorist.

    But that is not the standard here. The standard is “what is best for the children”.

    As a parent, I have a very hard time believing that children living with someone who is so fast and loose with facts, reality and appeals to violence and conspiracy thinking is in their best interests. Living with someone whose entire public persona is a lie, can’t be good for children. It can’t be good for their peer relationships for your parent to be known as a deranged conspiracy theorist, whether it is true or not.

    Wasn’t he pushing the PizzaGate story? Until he offered this lame apology? After someone shot up the place?

    With great power comes great responsibility. Alex Jones has shown himself to be reckless and destructive with the power that he has.

    If it were my decision I would deny custody to him as not being in the children’s best interests.

    http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/30/media/alex-jones-apology-pizzagate-james-alefantis/

  17. Sophieon 18 Apr 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Actually the blog post Steven wrote isn’t about what’s the best for the children. It’s about using some arguments from a divorce case to argue that Alex Jones is faking it on the air. That’s what we are talking about, nice try though.

    About the children, who knows? Sounds like the mother is already bankrupt or well on her way. Maybe having a rich dad, that’s a workaholic you rarely see. Who pays for nannies and people to take care of you, is better than having a broke mom, living in a bad neighborhood and not having many opportunities.

    Most kids rebel against their parents at some point, if there is all this evidence out there that Alex Jones is wrong, maybe they will attach onto that and not side with daddy.

    Also there are so many easy arguments to make about how very religious people are stereotypically good parents. A lot of people believe very strange things without evidence and have troubling relationships with the truth. This has nothing to do with how good they are at raising their own children.

  18. Lightnotheaton 18 Apr 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Sophie, please dont get all lawyerly. I wont say anything about the kids, but what seems clear to me is that Alex Jones is either a nutball if he really believes all this stuff, or an a**hole if hes just playing a character, or both if its some combination of performance and belief. Trump’s apparent approval of him is deeply disturbing.

  19. Sophieon 18 Apr 2017 at 3:29 pm

    I’m not trying to be lawyerly.

    Daedalus said: “If it were my decision I would deny custody to him as not being in the children’s best interests.”

    He simply doesn’t have the relevant facts to make a decision like that, and is just saying it based on what he thinks Alex Jones must be like around his kids. Information he also doesn’t have, but infers from the man’s public persona? How?

    So I guess Kim and Kanye can’t raise their own kids, because they have these very big public personas with a lot of humiliating negatives attached. Kayne has songs about misogyny and violence, Kim has a sex tape. Therefore Kayne must be violent and abusive in private and Kim must be an irresponsible sex addict, right? Neither of those people should have children if we infer their private lives from their public lives.

    You know a lot about Alex Jones’ public persona, but very little about his private life and internal mental state.

    You also know next to nothing about the ex-wife. This is a woman who married Alex Jones, had three(?) kids with him, chances are they have something in common, she could be even worse. What if she is a drug addict, or abusive, would you still side with her? Maybe the state should raise them? Is Alex Jones so evil, that literally anyone other than him should raise his own children?

    As you can see it’s not about the law it’s about critically evaluating the information. All this court of public opinion argumentation illustrates the reasons why we have a court system.

    Alex Jones could very well believe a lot of strange things. My parents believed a lot of weird things and they still provided for me, kept me alive until I was able to take care of myself. Even the infamous Alex Jones must want the best for his kids, it’s an evolutionary instinct.

  20. Karl Withakayon 18 Apr 2017 at 3:40 pm

    Sophie,

    “So I guess Kim and Kanye can’t raise their own kids, because they have these very big public personas with a lot of humiliating negatives attached.”

    =Non sequitur.

    Determining custody in a divorce case is an entirely different matter from determining parental competence. Determining which parent to grant custody to and what custody/ visitation rights are for the other parent is VERY different from the state removing a child from the custody of their parents and placing the child into foster care. The bar in the second scenario is MUCH, MUCH higher than the bar in the first.

    “Alex Jones could very well believe a lot of strange things. My parents believed a lot of weird things and they still provided for me, kept me alive until I was able to take care of myself. ”

    But if your patents got divorced and one of them held some very weird beliefs, the court may well take that into consideration when determining custody rights.

    “Even the infamous Alex Jones must want the best for his kids, it’s an evolutionary instinct.”

    I hope you understand that that is not an absolute given. There are parents in the world who do not want what is best for their children, and it’s kind of important to understand that.

  21. Sophieon 18 Apr 2017 at 4:06 pm

    When you are going to call people on fallacies make sure you know what you are talking about. The quote you used is a non sequitur, but that’s the exact point I was making!

    This is the fallacy fallacy. I was making an analogy to illustrate the problems with Daedalus’ logic. You can’t determine parental competence from Alex Jones’ public persona. We know nothing about what he actually thinks or how he acts in private. This is like the Kim and Kanye analogy I used, to illustrate the problems.

    Your additional points are just as flawed. You know a lot about one parent in this case and nothing about the beliefs of the other parent. (You don’t even know what Jones actually believes just what his public persona claims.) And on the second point, yes of course there are always exceptions, that doesn’t make me wrong in assuming he wants the best for his children. It’s up to you to show me that Alex Jones doesn’t feel the very commonly felt instinctual drive to take care of his kids. It’s up to you to claim that he is not competent and that his private behavior matches his outbursts on the air. Until we are given that evidence we can assume he is closer to an average person in those ways. We all put up a facade when we walk outside or go to work, and no one is going to defend that Rachel Maddow doesn’t play a “character,” on her show, go watch her rant about Trump’s taxes and then a less intense interview with her on another show if you need evidence.

  22. Lightnotheaton 18 Apr 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Sophie,
    I’m actually pretty sympathetic to your points about whether Alex could be a good parent, but the analogy with Maddow is way off base. She is more intense and one-sided on her show than in other settings, but it’s pretty clear that the beliefs she expresses really are hers. Whereas with Alex Jones, there is a real question about what his true beliefs are. Another example of the ambiguities of language. Yes, Maddow and Jones are both giving a performance in a sense, but the meaning of the word performance is so broad and imprecise that ascribing any kind if equivalence to two people just because they are both “performing” is unreasonable.

  23. pdeboeron 18 Apr 2017 at 4:54 pm

    @ goldfinch –

    You convinced me, its not a good defence. Even if he is a performance artist, his actions as part of InfoWars will be a convincing argument against custody.

  24. ryan meganon 18 Apr 2017 at 5:00 pm

    Ask Jon Ronson if he’s putting on an act. (spoilers: he is)

  25. Sophieon 18 Apr 2017 at 5:10 pm

    I’m not a circular or plastic, those aren’t the qualities of buttons people are referring to when they call me “cute as a button.” A cell is a factory, but it doesn’t provide its employees with health insurance.

    There is no such thing as a perfect analogy, we use them to illustrate some commonalities between two different things. The analogy I used about Kim and Kayne wasn’t used to illustrate the difference between the government taking someone’s kids away and a custody battle. It was used to show that public personas don’t equal private personas.

    Obviously Rachel Maddow isn’t the exact same as Alex Jones in every respect. But she is hyperbolic and tends to exaggerate things. It would be easy to argue that the ranting, hyperbolic, Maddow is a “character,” and that the real Maddow could be very different in private. That’s the argument I was making.

    Everyone is acting a certain way in public to some extent. Maddow and Cooper are highly trained to do what they do, it’s a type of “performance.” Cameras are placed in certain angles, pens are held in hands for no reason, other than it looks weird if they don’t have notes in front of them and pens. Do you really think they aren’t just reading off of a TelePrompTer? I think it was Colbert once who showed his cards to a guest and they were all blank or just with doodles on them. These are things that are added to a performance to make it look better.

    I don’t think I’m using the word imprecisely. I think maybe you are using it too specifically.

    You admit both Maddow and Jones are performing/playing characters on air, that’s enough for me. Now the argument is about how much are they performing? Jones performs more and his personal beliefs may or may not be in line with his on air character? Look how far we’ve come from the first few comments.

  26. Karl Withakayon 18 Apr 2017 at 5:20 pm

    “When you are going to call people on fallacies make sure you know what you are talking about”

    Ummm, yup, and I did.

    I pointed out that your statement about Kim and Kanye was completely irrelevant to a divorce related case where the parents are fighting over custody and therefore,

    “So I guess Kim and Kanye can’t raise their own kids, because they have these very big public personas with a lot of humiliating negatives attached.” ”

    doesn’t follow from

    “If it were my decision I would deny custody to him as not being in the children’s best interests.” (not my comment, by the way)

    One has nothing to do why the other. Ergo, non sequitur. quod erat demonstrandum

    One could argue that since my point was not flawed that you are indeed correct that my additional points are just as flawed, as in, not flawed at all.

    I made no comments specific to this case, at all. I pointed out the flaws in your comments.

    I did point out that your comment about your parents having weird ideas and still managing to keep you alive is irrelevant to what the courts can and do consider in custody hearings by pointing out that the courts may indeed consider extraordinarily weird beliefs of one of the parents in determining custody rights in a divorce case. I didn’t even advocate or defend this practice; I simply pointed it out as a fact.

    “And on the second point, yes of course there are always exceptions, that doesn’t make me wrong in assuming he wants the best for his children.”

    You made an unambiguous, definitive, absolute statement that clearly implied that all parents must want what’s best for their children:

    “Even the infamous Alex Jones must want the best for his kids, it’s an evolutionary instinct.”

    Not only is it obvious that not all parents want what is best for their children, but there’s two other problems with your statement:

    1 What parents think is best for their children is not always what is actually best.

    2 In divorce/ custody cases, parents do not always fight for what is best for their children and often are more concerned about hurting the other parent that in doing what is best for their child.

    So it’s not especially relevant if a parent wants what they think is best for their child in a custody hearing, especially considering that according to you, both parents will want that. Other factors must be considered.

    “It’s up to you to show me that Alex Jones doesn’t feel the very commonly felt instinctual drive to take care of his kids. It’s up to you to claim that he is not competent and that his private behavior matches his outbursts on the air. ”

    I never made any such claims to support, so no neither of those is up to me. Go ahead, show me where I made either of those claims.

    You should probably read more carefully and make sure who said what before responding to particular people to minimize embarrassing yourself.

  27. Karl Withakayon 18 Apr 2017 at 5:27 pm

    “There is no such thing as a perfect analogy, we use them to illustrate some commonalities between two different things. The analogy I used about Kim and Kayne wasn’t used to illustrate the difference between the government taking someone’s kids away and a custody battle. It was used to show that public personas don’t equal private personas. ”

    But there are good analogies, and there are some not so good ones.

    The difference is that a court might well consider public personas in determining custody rights in a custody case whereas it would be much less likely to take action to remove children form their parents’ custody based on public persona in lieu of any other reasons to investigate. (which was essentially your analogy) If there were charges or formal complaints raised about Kim & Kanye’s parenting, their public persona might well be considered by the courts as part of the process.

  28. Sophieon 18 Apr 2017 at 5:29 pm

    Karl,
    See the previous comments, which you obviously did not read, again.

    You are the one talking about the differences between a custody battle in a divorce and the state taking someone’s children away. Not me. I used the Kim and Kanye analogy to illustrate how a public persona doesn’t automatically translate into a private persona.

    Clearly I was not talking about standards of evidence and the differences between those types of cases.

    I used the analogy to say that it would be illogical to conclude for example, that Kayne is violent and abusive in private, just because some of his songs are about misogyny and violence. It’s illogical to do the same with Alex Jones, and the judge even said that the case isn’t about infowars.

  29. Atlantean Idolon 18 Apr 2017 at 6:15 pm

    As skeptics well know, attempting to read minds is largely an exercise in futility. I find Alex Jones entertaining; I hope he gets his kids back.

  30. Lightnotheaton 18 Apr 2017 at 6:17 pm

    Definitely getting lawyerly here. Yes, Alex Jones is not necessarily a bad parent and we shouldn’t assume that because of the way he acts on Infowars. Also, yes, the degree to which Maddow’s on-air persona and ideology differ from how she is in private is pretty clearly so much less than in Jones’s case that the analogy is not apt. And if I’m wrong and Jones’s “performance” is no less authentic than Maddow’s, then they are indeed in real life very different people, and the analogy is not apt. A somewhat better analogy would be someone like Howard Stern, or Don Rickles.

  31. RickKon 18 Apr 2017 at 7:26 pm

    Sophie said: “Attacking someone’s character, instead of what they actually said/did”

    Alex Jones actually said Sandy Hook was fake. It wasn’t. Little kids died. Lanza shot them. It is easily verifiable. Alex Jones CHOOSES to lie about a horrific event perpetrated on children.

    That is NOT indicative of someone who has the best interests of children – his or other people’s – in mind.

    That Alex Jones is a liar for profit who capitalizes on murdered children is not an ad hominem attack, it’s simple, well-documented fact.

    Here is an ad hominem attack: Alex Jones attracts the absolute dregs of humanity. He is the voice of what is most disgusting in people. His followers are exactly the same segment of society that has put murderous authoritarians into power throughout history. Because he is educated and doing this for fame and fortune and playing on the emotions of more limited people, he’s the worst of the worst. Anyone defending his particular brand of self-enriching, self-aggrandizing, manipulative sleaze should reevaluate their own moral foundations.

    Now that’s an ad hominem attack.

  32. hardnoseon 18 Apr 2017 at 7:35 pm

    He believes the conspiracy theories, and he also tries to be entertaining by acting nutty.

    He is expressing a frustration and despair that so many are feeling now, about where the modern world is heading.

    This blog, which I would call typically progressive, expresses hope and enthusiasm for technological progress.

    This country has always tended to be progressive — optimistic about the future, and willing to discard the past.

    But at the same time, a large percentage of Americans value traditions and the past. That was a big reason for the recent election.

    Non-progressives feel overwhelmed by the utopianism and the big brother-ism, the perceived loss of freedom. And, of course, the tyranny of political correctness.

    Does Infowars care about telling the “truth?” Probably not too much. I doubt Alex spends much time checking his sources and researching his conspiracy theories.

    But everything he says expresses the underlying message that his followers expect to hear: You are being lied to, you are being controlled, you are not respected.

    I think there is plenty of truth in his message, even if many of the details are wrong, and even though he acts like a maniac.

  33. Sophieon 18 Apr 2017 at 8:12 pm

    Lightnotheat,
    I don’t agree with the Howard Stern or Rickles (RIP) comparisons just because those are more comedian types. I chose Maddow because they both have that dramatic flair and are in the news commentary business. I know Alex Jones is mostly fake news and vitriol. And that Maddow is much more mainstream. I was just trying to show that just because someone “plays a character” on air doesn’t automatically mean they are fake news. Performance/ appearance /aesthetic is all interconnected. There are very few unattractive famous singers/ tv personalities / actors anymore. Is it because ugly people can’t act or make good music? No it’s just because appearance is really significant now in the age of HD video on every phone.

    Yes Alex Jones plays a character, but that’s not enough to discredit him or expose him. Also using a statement from his lawyer in a divorce case is pretty weak evidence.

    Either way it doesn’t change the fact that there is a multi million dollar empire based on infowars. The people who wrote the pizza gate story and other fake news stories during the election knew what they were doing. They knew they were making up a fake story for political reasons. Does it change the facts on the ground? Not really, the final product is still out there convincing people Hillary is a demon.

    Atlantean,
    Part of the problem is that some people find Alex Jones so entertaining. Fake news shouldn’t be something you consume for entertainment, if you know it’s not real you are still passively supporting it and driving ad traffic. Maybe go get your kicks elsewhere, this culture has produced more than enough entrainment products to keep your busy.

    Rickk,
    “That is NOT indicative of someone who has the best interests of children – his or other people’s – in mind.”
    This is where you depart from facts to allegations and personal attacks. State the facts all you want. But when you claim that you know what is going on in someone’s mind, you have left the realm of rationality. Enjoy your vacation.

    Alex Jones has been documented lying, yes. He has promoted insensitive things, yes. But for him and his followers, it’s all justified because the bigger problem is people believing the government lies. It’s completely possible that Alex Jones and his fans, see themselves as saviors. They certainly talk like it. They believe they are going out and taking down the government corruption and peeling the scales from your eyes.

    hardnose,
    Yes you captured it pretty well. Alex Jones doesn’t really care about the truth. He exists to tell people what they want to hear. The government is lying to you etc.

    Alex Jones rose in direct response to progressivism and the political correctness movement. People want to stick to their guns.

    Unfortunately I have to disagree with your conclusions though. I don’t agree with the message. You can’t have a coherent message when you continuously mess up all the relevant details. It’s been years. Most of his predictions did not come true. He predicts a domestic terror attack every few weeks. You have to at some point look at your notes and say no this is not legit, here’s 50 failed predictions, 100 contradictions. Etc.

  34. Willyon 18 Apr 2017 at 8:18 pm

    “Does Infowars care about telling the “truth?” Probably not too much. I doubt Alex spends much time checking his sources and researching his conspiracy theories.
    But everything he says expresses the underlying message that his followers expect to hear: You are being lied to, you are being controlled, you are not respected.
    I think there is plenty of truth in his message, even if many of the details are wrong, and even though he acts like a maniac.”

    Nuff said.

  35. TheGorillaon 18 Apr 2017 at 10:21 pm

    Fighting a losing battle, Sophie. :'(

  36. Sophieon 18 Apr 2017 at 10:43 pm

    Ha ha, maybe going down fighting is all we have left.

    What did you think of this blog entry on Alex Jones?

  37. Lightnotheaton 18 Apr 2017 at 10:47 pm

    I think we are mostly in agreement here that more and more, people are being told what they want to hear. The echo chambers are getting more and more impervious to anything that disagrees with the message being delivered within them. But we have to be really careful not to just throw up our hands and reject all statements about reality as hopelessly biased, or create false equivalencies. There is such a thing as truth, and applying the critical thinking tools this blog discusses does lead us towards it. And when you use those tools you have to conclude, for example, that while of course the New York Times is biased, it is a far, far, far more reliable source of truthful information than is Infowars.

  38. Sophieon 18 Apr 2017 at 11:16 pm

    These are some random thoughts that keep me sane.

    Mainstream media is still running things. You just have to check out the alternative media websites for 5 min to confirm this. Alex Jones constantly just parrots what the biggest news stories are, even his website is filled with just single paragraph “articles” and “exclusives” that just link to mainstream media articles after priming his fans with that paragraph. Breitbart has very little original content, same with drudge.

    When alternative media has reporters on the ground in war zones and tons of original content then we should worry.

    It’s hard for me to see Trump in the White House and the rise of this post fact world. It’s gonna be okay I tell myself. It’s just undeniable the trends we are seeing, towards alternative facts. Almost everyday lies are exposed and people just don’t care. I think a lot of this is just happening due to a lag in the time it takes us to adapt to the internet and social media. There was a time not so long ago that most people believed everything in a newspaper, on the radio or tv. We adapted, got inoculated, learned the difference between Orson Welles’ performance and reality. I think in a few years the average person will become less vulnerable to the misinformation online. Even as I write this I can think of 3 decent counter arguments. But I have hope. Either the internet is exceptional and everything is broken,
    Or it will fit neatly into our historical development, and we will overcome it.

    Echo chambers technically should run into problems all on their own. If you think about it, it’s an active process with very little oversight or human intervention. People will get more and more extreme views and fall into a specific chamber. But eventually they will have to emerge because they are so different from the rest of the world that they won’t be able to interact properly, get a job, understand basic science/medical info. It’s like the first time you watch Alex Jones, you will feel bogged down and lost, because he has his own language. That’s just going to get worse until he is basically incoherent. This is really clear in his interview on Piers Morgan, his fans loved it, but most people see a frothing at the mouth very unstable person. Eventually you won’t be able to have a conversation with the people in those echo Chambers. Haha and we think it’s bad now.

    If we make it though this relatively unscathed we are gonna have one hell of a story to tell our grandkids.

  39. RickKon 19 Apr 2017 at 6:27 am

    Sophie: “Alex Jones has been documented lying, yes. He has promoted insensitive things, yes. But for him and his followers, it’s all justified because the bigger problem is people believing the government lies. It’s completely possible that Alex Jones and his fans, see themselves as saviors.”

    Name any great anti-humanitarian movement or leader that didn’t consider themselves saviors. This is a familiar pattern, and the vitriol of the “alt media” is not remarkable when compared to earlier periods. What is so ironic is that the Alec Joneses of the world attract those most easily controlled by lies, all under the gipuise of “don’t let THEM control you.”

    That should be the Infowars banner subtitle: “Don’t let them control you, let me.”

    Intersting that Sandy Hook hoax lies are dismissed as merely “insensitive” – do you have children, Sophie?

  40. Steven Novellaon 19 Apr 2017 at 6:43 am

    Sophie – I did not say Alex Jones is fake. I asked, is he fake?

    Reread this paragraph:

    “The enduring question (at least for me) has been – to what extent does Jones actually believe the stuff that he says? I phrase it that way because belief is not necessarily binary (I don’t want to commit a false dichotomy logical fallacy). He may believe some of the stuff he says to some extent, but then exaggerates and gets into speculation, or simply not care about the veracity of his claims.”

    HN expresses the problem very well. Jones expresses how people feel, and it doesn’t matter if he gets the details right.

    Well, yes it does. Process matters. Accuracy matters. If you have to fudge the details in order to make a point, maybe you should reconsider the value of your point.

  41. BillyJoe7on 19 Apr 2017 at 7:29 am

    Atlantean Idol: ” I find Alex Jones entertaining; I hope he gets his kids back”

    RickK: “Alex Jones attracts the absolute dregs of humanity. He is the voice of what is most disgusting in people”

  42. Sophieon 19 Apr 2017 at 9:56 am

    Steven Novella: “I did not say Alex Jones is fake. I asked, is he fake?”

    I guess it’s up to your audience to read your article and decide for themselves. I can’t help but notice that you deliberately chose the word “faking” and then wrote about him being “fake news.”

    The lawyer, wife, the article you linked, no where does that language appear, the lawyer used: character and performance artist — not “faking.” I explained how Maddow and mainstream news people also play a character, and are very skilled at what they do. The lawyer could have simply meant that.

    An article asking a question, is usually building an argument for or against something. In this case it seems to me that you are arguing various reasons for why “Alex Jones is faking,” you even conclude that it doesn’t matter, because he’s a conspiracy theorist and can just claim he was forced to admit that in court.

  43. Sophieon 19 Apr 2017 at 10:31 am

    Rickk,

    When I wrote that Alex Jones and ppl see themselves as saviors, I was challenging what you wrote:
    “That is NOT indicative of someone who has the best interests of children – his or other people’s – in mind. [and later on] liar for profit who capitalizes on … doing this for fame… manipulative”

    You claimed to know what was going on in his mind, like many of the other posters, from his public persona. We had ppl here suggest that he should lose the custody battle just because of what they know about him from his public persona. We know almost nothing about the ex-wife’s situation.

    Your language implies that he has consciously malevolent outlook. I said he could very well see himself as a savior.

    Skeptics, humanists, firebrand atheists, also see themselves as saviors. Take an example of a firebrand atheist and an evangelical Christian, attempting to recruit. They both see themselves as saviors. They are in diametric opposition.

    Last week I had a Lyft driver tell me about how the earth is flat. I listened and then gave some counter arguments, he just looked at me patiently with pity in his eyes and said “Yeah, let it all out, you have been lied to your whole life, I’m just like you, they lied to me too.” I wouldn’t describe that behavior as malevolent in any way. He felt sorry for me and wanted to share his message with a non believer. There was nothing mean about it.

    Now I do agree with what Steven said in the article about Sylvia Browne. The best fakers are sometimes conscious of what they are doing. Regardless, at the end of the day, you still have the final products out there manipulating mostly innocent naive people like my Lyft driver. It’s not really about the intention of the people setting out to spread a conspiracy, it’s more about how do we fight it.

    If you get caught up in “ah see I knew it, he’s faking it,” you aren’t really doing anything to fight all the ppl who really do believe these crazy things. It’s kind of a disservice to them because instead of being just naive well meaning people, they are now just idiots who fell for some nonsense.

  44. Sarahon 19 Apr 2017 at 11:16 am

    Sophie’s right. You can’t claim to know shit about what’s really going on in his head. Stop assuming your gut feelings are truth statements.

  45. Sarahon 19 Apr 2017 at 11:18 am

    To clarify, I don’t mean you, Dr. Novella. You pretty clearly established doubt.

    There’s a lot of people her claiming knowledge they can’t have.

  46. Steven Novellaon 19 Apr 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Sophie – you are really tying yourself in knots there.

    Faking is a perfectly reasonable short hand for acting/pretending, etc. In this case he would be acting (assuming a character) without being transparent that this is what he is doing. i.e. – faking. His persona would be fake. His news certainly is “fake.”

    I clearly indicated that this does not mean he does not believe anything he is saying. It’s a spectrum.

    I was not building a case for why Alex Jones is faking. If that is what I meant, I would have said it. I don’t know how many of my articles you have read, but I’m not usually coy about my point.

    My point is that he is now admitting in court that his persona is an act. This certainly has implications for speculation regarding how much of his conspiracy nonsense he actually believes, but we cannot know for sure. And – it doesn’t really matter. That is the beauty (for someone like him) of creating an alternate reality where you just get to make shit up, where there is a false equivalency among all sources of information, where truth does not really matter, and where everything is a conspiracy.

  47. Sophieon 19 Apr 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Steven Novella,

    I’m not arguing that faking doesn’t describe the behavior. It’s just so happens that terminology doesn’t appear in the article you linked or the quotes you used. You would never describe an actor as faking it, they are acting.

    Rachel Maddow plays a hyperbolic character on tv. From other interviews I’ve seen her in, she appears as a more relaxed fun person. I wouldn’t say she is “faking it.” Same thing with Anderson Cooper. These news anchors act in a very stern way consciously, the sets are built in a conscious way, it’s all a type of performance, right down to the pens held in their hands.

    My point is that he is now admitting in court that his persona is an act.

    False. Pants on fire! His lawyer said that in the context of a divorce proceeding; in response to the ex-wife’s claim that Alex Jones’ radio show persona is the same as his private persona.

    The lawyer said Alex Jones is playing a “character” and that he is a “performance artist,” that can mean many different things. That Alex Jones is “faking” is just one possible meaning.

    When you walk into your office you put up a facade, you are not being your true self, you play the serious doctor and keep your personal opinions out of most conversations with your patients. Your neurologist public persona is vastly different from your private self when you are birdwatching with friends.

    Are you faking it? Is what you do at work all just an act?

  48. daedalus2uon 19 Apr 2017 at 3:08 pm

    There is now testimony, by someone who was case manager for the Jone’s family therapy sessions that Alex Jones was formally diagnosed with NPD.

    http://www.rawstory.com/2017/04/alex-jones-has-been-formally-diagnosed-with-narcissistic-personality-disorder-doctor/#.WPewqS3inSY.facebook

  49. Sophieon 19 Apr 2017 at 3:25 pm

    Everything I said is now wrong because you posted a link to comments by a witness sympathetic to the ex wife’s claims. A witness has never been coached and chosen for a specific role like this. *sarcasm*

    We still know nothing about his side of the argument. You keep proving my previous points. I told you that you can’t decide a case without knowing the whole story. You said you wouldn’t grant him custody based on (still) no knowledge of the ex wife’s situation, except that she might be on her way to bankruptcy. That’s not rational. Clearly Alex Jones is just such an evil man in your mind.

  50. Willyon 19 Apr 2017 at 3:50 pm

    Question: Above is a post from “Willy”. I go by Willy here and I did not make that post. Is a user name not exclusive?

  51. Lightnotheaton 19 Apr 2017 at 4:42 pm

    Sophie, I mostly like what you’re saying, so I’ll let the Maddow stuff go after this. I have also seen her in other settings than her show, and I wouldn’t describe her character on the show as hyperbolic or all that different from in the other settings. Maybe we’re using different definitions of hyperbolic. Your point about not judging Alex Jones’s parenting skills based on his show remains valid, but I don’t think Maddow is a good analogy. I guess my bias of generally liking Maddow is influencing me here, don’t want her associated with Jones whom I find repellant whatever the degree of his sincerity or authenticness on Infowars. But I think I’d say the same thing if you’d used, say, Tucker Carlson as an analogy. Anyway, in general good points.

  52. Sophieon 19 Apr 2017 at 5:24 pm

    That’s really mature of you to say, thank you. It’s hard to admit that we don’t line up perfectly with someone but we still like some of what they say. So much of the internet is just about bashing people for the differences and not celebrating the similarities. I’ll stop using the Maddow example. I don’t meant to insult her.

    [maddow interviewed by lord Mervyn King]

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNJcm8x3UOE

    In this interview you can see an unguarded version of her. She explains how she got her start and the role she played on tv as a liberal who would just go on to argue versus conservatives.

    This is the kind of thing I’m talking about. It’s all a type of performance.

    [behind the scenes cbs]

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAVwZawA6eA

    Even mainstream news is all a type of performance. That’s all I meant.

  53. arnieon 19 Apr 2017 at 6:18 pm

    Sophie, You repeatedly admonish your fellow commenters that they can’t really know what’s going on in the minds of others. This looks suspiciously like a case of “don’t do as I do, do as I say” as witness below a few of the mind-reading comments you have made on this thread:

    “Clearly Alex Jones is just such an evil man in your mind.”

    “When you walk into your office you put up a facade, you are not being your true self”

    “That’s really mature of you to say” (this one also comes across has patently condescending)

    “These news anchors act in a very stern way consciously”

    “He felt sorry for me and wanted to share his message with a non believer.”

    In all those cases and others, how can you be certain that what you wrote is true and not just your interpretation of what they said, i.e., “reading their minds”?

    Maybe time to remove the beam from your own eye before you comment on the slivers in others, eyes? Just sayin’……

  54. hardnoseon 19 Apr 2017 at 6:51 pm

    There are things on infowars that the mainstream media ignores, or maybe hides. No, you can’t trust inforwars, but it could be partly right about some things.

    For example, there is HAARP, which the military and wikipedia assure us is perfectly safe. Is it really? Does the military and the government, and their friend wikipedia, always tell us the whole truth about everything?

    I don’t believe in conspiracies, but I do believe in human recklessness and arrogance.

    Conspiracy theories assume devious motives, and they assume the conspirators have amazing powers. The government has the technology to read our thoughts and control our minds, for example.

    I think that when people do bad things, it’s usually for what they feel is a good reason.

    Infowars expresses a feeling that there are big powerful forces that don’t care about us. That is the part I agree with.

    I am not afraid of those forces because they are powerful and evil. I am afraid of them because they are powerful and fallible, and their mistakes could be disastrous.

  55. Sophieon 19 Apr 2017 at 7:17 pm

    arnie,

    Lol. A true skeptic huh. I guess we can never know anything for certain about anyone’s motivations and there is no point to writing a single thing. You took all those quotes out of their original place, it’s just cherry picking 101, plus confirmation bias, and a dash of trollism by appealing to the hypocrisy of just general facts about life.

    First quote: yep, I said that. It’s justified look at the context, Daedalus said that if it was up to him, he would deny Alex Jones custody, without knowing anything about the wife.
    2nd: absolutely a fact about life. Google persona, talk to someone about it, it’s a fact that we act one way at work and one way in private.
    3rd: it’s sincere, look at the text following this, it’s not even a complete quotation, that’s intellectually dishonest
    4th: Also a fact. Check out Rachel Maddow interview link, watch some behind the scenes or casual conversations with other news anchors outside of their role delivering the news. They are chill people with lives outside of the studio, what they do on air requires a lot of training and practice. It’s a performance not everyone can do.
    5th: I honestly did not get any sense from that flat earther that he was being mean or condescending, his speech, tone and words, all pointed to someone who felt sorry for me for believing the earth wasn’t flat.

    As any rational observer can see, there is a massive difference between what I said and what others said. I did not say anything about how Alex Jones’ public persona and private persona must be the same. I said nothing about what Alex Jones actually believes, I don’t know. I made assumptions yes, justified reasonable assumptions based on rational premises.

    People said things about the inner workings of his mind. Like he must not care about people and wish them harm.
    I said actually lots of people think they are saviors in situations like that, we have no evidence that he sees himself as malevolent.
    People said he shouldn’t have his kids because he doesn’t care about the truth, and the way he acts is indicative of other problems that would spread to his personal life.
    I said actually hold up a sec, we don’t know, there is no reason to assume he doesn’t love his kids and want the best for them.

    I don’t know what’s going on in your head arnie, but I can guess from your comment here that you set out to humiliate and insult me by using some cherry picked quotes. I don’t know for sure, but you seem to be motivated by some hollow sense of justice. I don’t think you want to contribute anything useful to conversation. But I know for sure, that you didn’t read the article or the comments carefully.

    The third quote of mine you used, is a textbook example of intellectual dishonesty, I encourage everyone to go check out what I actually said and decide for yourself if it was condescending, it’s right up there.

  56. Sophieon 19 Apr 2017 at 7:34 pm

    hardnose,

    Any news source can be “partly right about some things.”

    When I do a bad thing, it’s not because I’m a bad person… I want to tell myself I did it for a good reason. This is very human and normal, it’s called cognitive dissonance.

    I disagree with you, but I have to admit these last few comments of yours seem pretty sincere. Is it safe to assume you don’t believe the government has mind control technology? And that HAARP likely isn’t going to destroy the entire world?

    Most people would agree that we should be cautious of big powerful forces such as the government. It’s in the constitution. I don’t think most people would use that to justify the existence of Alex Jones tho. This is where you lose me. In your opinion is Alex Jones bad or good? Is he a force or good in the world? Should we encourage people to tune into his show or not? How would you rank the truthfulness of the following networks: Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, New York Times, Alex Jones.

  57. hardnoseon 19 Apr 2017 at 8:11 pm

    I wouldn’t try to rank the truthfulness. It would take decades of research, and sorry I have other things to do.

    But one of those things on your list is not like the others. Alex Jones is a different breed of news source than CNN, etc.

    There are many other conspiracy theory websites and I have been to some of them. It’s easy, for me anyway, to see they are wacky, maybe because I have never seen a conspiracy theory that seemed rational.

    But one thing you get from Inforwars and other conspiracy sites is a willingness to defy the big powers. That is one of the factors in Trump’s getting elected. I have no idea of Trump actually is a defiant crusader, or just pretending.

    “Most people would agree that we should be cautious of big powerful forces such as the government.”

    Oh no, that is not true. Now days trusting the government seems central to progressive ideology. The idea is that we elected the government, therefore it represents us and we can trust it.

    On the other hand, progressives distrust private business. But we elect private businesses by buying their products.

    We can’t trust either Big Government or Big Business. We have to be skeptical, and we should be defiant.

    Our world is getting more dangerous by the minute. Yes, we are all happily cruising along in our SUVs, watching our 500 TV channels, while barely glancing away from our iPhones. It may seem like paradise, but it depends on how you look at it. To me, it is scary.

  58. arnieon 19 Apr 2017 at 8:17 pm

    “But I know for sure, that you didn’t read the article or the comments carefully.”

    No you don’t know that for sure, in fact it’s completely untrue, as were your other attacks. Yes, I chose a few obvious examples to make my point rather than attempt to be complete, but you’re applying the cherry-picking logical fallacy on me in an inappropriate context.

    You appeared to be doing something similar in your comments to Steven earlier in this thread.

    So I rest my case. Humility and self-reflection are hallmarks of the skeptic attitude and your comments frequently have left me wondering.

    If that feedback doesn’t ring a bell for you, or you wish to ignore it, so be it. Nothing personal.

  59. Sophieon 19 Apr 2017 at 9:05 pm

    hardnose,
    “I wouldn’t try to rank the truthfulness. It would take decades of research, and sorry I have other things to do.”

    I’m asking your personal opinion not for some objective study. The truth is we all do this everyday, if you turn on your local news to check the weather, you are deciding that’s better than the weather channel, or a random local weather website, or an airport monitoring station’s professional information on their website.

    If you turn on either CNN, Fox News, or MSNBC, to watch the nightly news, you are deciding that the others are not so great.

    I’m asking you personally to rank the major news sources. If truthfulness is the wrong scale then you chose what scale you would use to rank them. Here’s a list: CNN, MSNBC, foxnews, New York Times, Alex Jones/infowars, Drudge Report, Breitbart.

    I personally would rank the New York Times somewhere near the top of the list, infowars at the bottom, along with Breitbart. Drudge is mostly just a collection of links feeding an alternative conservative narrative so it’s near the bottom but not as bad. Certainly Fox News is better than drudge, because they didn’t run the fake news stories during the election.

    If you asked me if we should encourage people to listen to Alex Jones I would say no, he has a history of deception and failed predictions, and makes up stories. Fake news is a real problem in our world today and Alex Jones is making it worse. A conversation about how Alex Jones makes people question things, would never come up, because it’s not something as important as the harm he causes everyday. It’s not even exclusive to Alex Jones, it can be found in the spirit of the constitution and centuries of writings by many different authors.

    How about you?

    arnie,
    If you read my words, and understood what I was trying to express you wouldn’t have cut off my words in the middle of a sentence like you did in this example:

    You intentionally cut a sentence short without the use of ellipses, you cut off the part that said thank you. You also deliberately misrepresented everything I said. Look the body of the paragraph, clearly I’m thanking lightnotheat and showing how rare that type of behavior is online.

    The rest of what you have to say is problematic at best.

    “You appeared to be doing something similar in your comments to Steven earlier in this thread.”
    -insinuation without evidence, slacker move

    “So I rest my case. Humility and self-reflection are hallmarks of the skeptic attitude and your comments frequently have left me wondering.”
    -glad your case is resting, go back to sleep Slacker.

    Your comments have left me with nothing to wonder, it’s an intellectually lazy attempt at fallacy-policing, plain as day. Just like Karl, freaking out about how the standard of evidence is totally different in the analogy I used, when I wasn’t talking about that at all. Or the guy in the other comments freaking out about magenta, when no one but him is talking about magenta.

    You didn’t even say a single thing about your thoughts on Alex Jones or you know, what everyone has been talking about this entire time. The mark of a true troll.

  60. Sophieon 19 Apr 2017 at 9:14 pm

    Lol my attempt at block quoting failed spectacularly. The example referenced above is this:

    example:
    <
    [arnie]:{ “That’s really mature of you to say” (this one also comes across has patently condescending) }

    My actual words to lightnotheat:
    That’s really mature of you to say, thank you. It’s hard to admit that we don’t line up perfectly with someone but we still like some of what they say. So much of the internet is just about bashing people for the differences and not celebrating the similarities. I’ll stop using the Maddow example. I don’t meant to insult her.

  61. Lightnotheaton 19 Apr 2017 at 9:44 pm

    Hardnose,
    It’s weird sometimes how much you sound like the progressives you decry. At least a certain strain of them; in the last paragraph of your last post you sound almost exactly like a Green Party member.
    Another thing I noticed about your last post, as in a great many of yours, is what is at least an implied false equivalence. As when you talk about it taking decades of research to rank the truthfulness of various news sources. I mean, sure, you could plausibly make a case that ranking liberal MSNBC vs. conservative Fox would take some time, surely not decades, but Infowars is not on the same playing field at all. It would take five minutes to show that it ranks dead last on that list you were asked to rank, by a wide margin.
    You also once again demonstrated the lamentable attitude that truth is such a subjective thing that you will more or less line up with whoever is in the tribe you like more, rather than seriously try to determine who might be closer to the truth. Thus you have a fairly positive attitude towards Alex Jones despite his being massively truth-challenged, because, hey, he’s against the “progressive establishment”, and who knows what is true anyway? I wonder how you would respond to someone who took the same approach toward you on some issue where you happen to agree with the establishment, such as smoking bans? Always answering your public health arguments with “that’s just what the biased establishment says, and this conspiracy site I like says all that cancer evidence is faked.”
    It’s not just tribe against tribe. Truth exists.

  62. daedalus2uon 20 Apr 2017 at 9:27 am

    There are several issues for me with Alex Jones’ behavior. I know the OP was about is he “faking” or not. My statements were about whether I thought it was in the bests interests of his children for him to be granted custody in a divorce where custody is being contested. These are very different things.

    At some level, it is pretty clear that he does know some of what he says is false, and that it harms people. He still keeps doing it anyway.

    When the pizza place got shot up in PizzaGate, Alex Jones response was to try and scrub references to PizzaGate from his website; so as to try to make it that PizzaGate didn’t get sourced back to him, not to try and mitigate the harm that he had already done by spreading PizzaGate stuff.

    So he knows that he is harming people. He knows he induced someone with a feeble grip on reality to shoot up a pizza place. That could have easily resulted in a mass shooting. Did Alex Jones care about that? Apparently not. All he seemingly cared about was, how a pizza place being shot up because of what he had on his website would affect his reputation if it could be traced back to Alex Jones, correctly because that is where the shooter got his information.

    We have someone who knows that he is lying, and who also knows his lies are harming people, and he keeps telling those lies anyway and tries to cover up his lies so he can keep on telling those lies and more.

    The issue is not little lies, little lies that people tell in the course of their lives that have minimal consequences. These are lies that almost killed innocent people. Then his response was not to try and mitigate the harm that his lies had done, but rather to try and eliminate consequences for himself for the lies he told which harmed people.

    This is not a close call for me. Someone who lies while knowing those lies will hurt people is not someone who is a suitable role model for children.

  63. Karl Withakayon 20 Apr 2017 at 11:28 am

    “First quote: yep, I said that. It’s justified look at the context, Daedalus said that if it was up to him, he would deny Alex Jones custody, without knowing anything about the wife.”

    ergo Deadalus believes Alex Jones is evil, because it’s not possible that Daedalus believes Alex Jones is a non evil, unfit parent. Got it. (It may or may not be true that Daedalus beleives Jones is evil, but I don’t think one can logically conclude that based on that statement by Deadalus.)

    “2nd: absolutely a fact about life. Google persona, talk to someone about it, it’s a fact that we act one way at work and one way in private.”

    No, it’s not an absolute fact that everyone behaves differently at work than they do in private. I personally know two people who have lost their jobs precisely because they behave basically the same way at work that they do in private.

    But more importantly, so what? I behave differently with my parents than I do with my close friends, which is different from how I behave here, which is different from how I behave at work, all those personas will change depending on my mood and various other variables. All those different personas are different aspects of the real me, my true self. No single one of those personas represents a single true self. I’m not sure I’d say I had a single true self beyond the amalgamation of everything that I am.

    I won’t even bother dissecting the quality of support that “Google persona, talk to someone about it[…]” represents.

  64. Sophieon 20 Apr 2017 at 11:57 am

    Daedalus,
    Yes Alex is a bad influence on his audience, yes he promotes fake news. You are still missing my entire argument.

    We have a lot of information about one person, and almost nothing about the other. We also happen to be skeptics so we naturally dislike and are biased towards fake news proponents.

    We know nothing about the wife and you don’t have all the relevant details that the judge has in this custody case. The ex-wife could be worse, a drug addict, abusive, we don’t know. All we know is that see is on her way to being bankrupted. We also know there are millions of dollars at stake. Also that her lawyer is using motivated reasoning. You can’t just assume Alex is a worse parent no matter how much we don’t like what he does. That’s where we differ. You are letting your feelings about Alex Jones cloud your thought process.

    Karl,
    Your claim that not everyone is different in different situations is hilarious, it’s actually unhealthy and unprofessional to act the same way in different social situations.

    It’s an everyday social reality that we all act differently in public than we do in private. Sociologists, psychologists and other researchers have commented on this for decades. Anyone reading you attacking this commonly accepted fact, knows you are wrong because they have experienced it personally.

    We all monitor our language more closely when in public or at work, we try to be polite, and keep our opinions to ourselves. The self you express at work is not the same as the self you express when you are chilling with your friends. One takes active effort to maintain, the other is relaxed and natural.

    For example, this is why some people feel tired and frustrated in customer service jobs, it takes energy to act happy all the time and not get mad at people yelling at you.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_labor

    There you go, go read about the research into this very well known phenomenon. Or just ask someone if they are their true selves at work, if they put up a facade in public, and are more relaxed, comfortable and honest in private social settings.

  65. arnieon 20 Apr 2017 at 12:26 pm

    Karl Withakay, Thanks for chiming in on that. I considered expanding in some length on each of those quotes as you did on the first two. However, my sense of Sophie’s first response to my comment was that there was very little receptivity there for self reflection and awareness of her own mind-reading assumptions. Perhaps I was too pessimistic on that score, but the irrational ad hom attacks on me were very striking (no pun intended :-)), so I decided to be patient. You, as a second commenter, clearly getting what I was getting at, gave stronger feedback to her than my simply going back and forth with her on it.

    Not that mind-reading assumptions are in themselves so terrible. We all (at least speaking for myself) do it to various degrees from time to time. It was her holier-than-thou and humility-free, and non-skeptical, non-self reflective tack that stood out so and that I felt was worthy of a comment on a blog such as this.

  66. Sophieon 20 Apr 2017 at 12:27 pm

    As to why this matters see my first post and the subsequent few. Wherein I explain how “performance artist” and “character” do not equal “faking.” Alex Jones’ lawyer could simply mean what I just described or the stage performance aspect I also previously described. It is illogical to assume we know what’s going on in Alex Jones’ head from what the lawyer said.

  67. Sophieon 20 Apr 2017 at 12:36 pm

    arnie,
    I’m right here you can address me and talk to me directly not doing so is pretty condescending.

    Please explain how you did not misrepresent me and intentionally misquote me. The example is above, where I said to lightnotheat: that’s mature of you to say, thank you. You cut it short without eclipses and dropped the context.

    You don’t engage with me because you are a troll. You also don’t say anything about the topics at hand because you are a troll.

  68. Karl Withakayon 20 Apr 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Sophie,

    Did you read my whole comment, or did you stop right before the “But more importantly, so what? ” part?

    As to: “Your claim that not everyone is different in different situations is hilarious, it’s actually unhealthy and unprofessional to act the same way in different social situations”

    First, I never said that not everyone is different in different situations, that is an inaccurate take on the position I put forward.

    Second, OK, if “everyone is different in different situations”, how would you know that “it’s actually unhealthy and unprofessional to act the same way in different social situations”?

    You cannot really know the second if the first is literally true. Either everyone is different in different situation, or those people who are not different in different situations behave unhealthily and unprofessionally or you believe it would be unhealthy and unprofessional to act the same way in different social situations if such behavior were possible, but since it’s never been done, you can’t really know.

    I don’t deny that it likely would be unprofessional, thus why the two people I know that behave basically the same way at work as they do in private have both lost jobs due to that behavior.

    “We all monitor our language more closely when in public or at work, we try to be polite, and keep our opinions to ourselves”

    THAT is a laughable statement, as anyone who has ever worked with a foul mouthed, rude, openly opinionated jerk at work can attest. Not only is that absolutely not true of -everyone-, it’s also not true that that is different behavior from private behavior for everyone.

    But really, pay more attention to the rest of my comment after “But more importantly, so what?”.

  69. Sophieon 20 Apr 2017 at 12:43 pm

    Please go read my first comment. Also I meant ellipses* not eclipses.

  70. Sophieon 20 Apr 2017 at 1:02 pm

    You two are trolls because you are fallacy-policing and arguing the tiniest details, while ignoring the clear objectives of my arguments. Arnie has been caught being intellectually dishonest and misquoting me. Karl has been found freaking out about the parts of an analogy that didn’t match my argument, when I was clearly using the analogy for a specific reason I outlined.

    You two also neglect the actual conversation or the article. This means you are here to attack people not for a productive convo.

    I’ve justified no longer responding to your comments, however if you wish to engage further then I want you both to explain where arnie misquoted me. It’s a simple test, with a clear answer, he cut it off without an ellipsis and dropped the context. Till then peace be with you.

  71. Karl Withakayon 20 Apr 2017 at 1:43 pm

    “however if you wish to engage further then I want you both to explain where arnie misquoted me.”

    I never addressed, either in support or criticism, that particular comment by arnie, so why should I be required to explain that comment to get you to engage me further? Arnie can speak for himself if he wants to, right?

    Disengage if you will. I’m perfectly comfortable with letting everything I have said here stand. We are obviously at an impasse. I will let everyone else make their own assessments of of our statements and positions, but I do want to address one last thing

    “Karl has been found freaking out[…]”

    That’s twice you’ve claimed that I have freaked out here. That may be your assessment, but I assure you, I have not been freaking out about anything, and I’m not accusing you of freaking out about anything either.

  72. arnieon 20 Apr 2017 at 2:20 pm

    Sophie: “It is illogical to assume we know what’s going on in Alex Jones’ head from what the lawyer said.”

    Then would you also agree with Karl when he wrote: “(It may or may not be true that Daedalus beleives Jones is evil, but I don’t think one can logically conclude that based on that statement by Deadalus.)” Or are you the only one qualified to know what exactly a person means or the only one who can always accurately read the level of a person’s maturity simply by reading what they write to you?

    You seem to want to get into a battle of name-calling and ad hominem attacks. I have no interest in that and, to me, this is not personal. I was simply doing the skeptical thing of questioning your repeated accusations that others were unfairly interpreting others state of mind while you, as probably all of us from time to time, were doing the same thing. I was surprised to hit such a tender spot that you apparently couldn’t reflect honestly on that. That’s not a personal problem for me requiring a personal battle with you, so until you can self reflect on it, or even if you can’t, peace be to you, too.

    By the way, I didn’t address you directly in my earlier comment because I wasn’t addressing you at all. I was addressing Karl relative to his response to you. It wouldn’t have been appropriate to address you when I was responding to him and thanking him for “getting” what I had previously written to you and enlarging on it in his post to you. Get it?

  73. Lightnotheaton 20 Apr 2017 at 3:07 pm

    A lot of chips on shoulders here. Let’s pull back guys, you don’t really disagree that much, and you’re giving ammo to people who say skeptics are just as prone to do stuff like rationalizing, cherry picking, ad hominem attacks, taking things out of context, etc., as anyone else! And again, I’d say you’re really not that far apart. Step back and skim through the whole thread and maybe you’ll see what I mean. Much ado about not much. I stopped talking about the Maddow thing when I realized Sophie and I were not really far apart substantively.

  74. Sophieon 20 Apr 2017 at 3:17 pm

    Maybe I can try this again?

    This blog post was all speculation, by Steven Novella, into the inner workings of Alex Jones’ mind, based on some things his attorney said in a custody battle. I called him on it and he nitpicked:

    1) that he didn’t say Alex Jones was faking it, he asked “is Alex Jones faking?” Because that’s a reasonable distinction to make given an entire blog post arguing that Alex Jones might be putting up a fake persona and not believe his own fake news. *sarcasm*

    Where’s the argument for why Alex Jones might not be faking, if this article is just asking an innocent question, and not presenting a clear bias?

    And 2) that “faking” is the same as “playing a character” or being a “performance artist.”
    —–
    Let’s assume he is right, let’s use a semi equivalent example:

    If we substitute Alex Jones with Jim Cramer, the host of Mad Money, and run everything again do we all feel the same way?

    (George Clooney depicted a fictional version of Jim Cramer in the movie, ‘Money Monster.’ I liked it. It wasn’t that great but it was directed by Jodie Foster which is pretty cool.)

    For example, Jim Cramer is known for being a zany character on TV, and if you check out interviews with him on other shows, he openly admits that his show is an act, that it’s funny intentionally and exaggerates things; but you still learn something. You can see him speak calmly while being interviewed on other shows.

    Given those details, I would find it truly unbelievable that anyone here would argue that he doesn’t play a “character” on his show. What he does also requires a lot of skill, training, and is a type of performance. You could describe it that way easily and justifiably.

    If someone asked you: Is Jim Cramer faking it? You would say something like: well it depends, he’s a real person, clearly exaggerating on the show, and making jokes and angry rants for a purpose, or sometimes out of genuine anger… But the show is presented in a non fiction format on a serious business news channel. Yeah he’s faking some things but generally he is presenting business info and stock tips in a semi serious way, so he’s playing a fictional version of himself or acting that way just for the sake of the show. To add entertainment value.
    —-
    Now. Let’s say, Jim Cramer was going through a custody battle and the ex wife had zero evidence that he was abusive to her or the kids in private. Would it be okay for the ex wife to use clips from the show ‘Mad Money’ to argue that Jim Cramer’s real persona, is the one depicted in a cherry-picked selection on clips where he is screaming and generally acting in a peculiar way? Would we all be okay with this type of argument? Would we look at that and conclude, yes of course he can’t raise his own children?

    This is similar what’s happening to Alex Jones, the clips selected for evidence are not the typical Alex Jones radio show performance. The majority of his show is him speaking pretty plainly, reading news headlines, taking calls, reading advertisements. Keep in mind, it’s on public radio, in some places, he can’t be swearing and freaking out all the time. In fact I don’t really remember him swearing in a normal show, I don’t think he’s allowed to. (Keep in mind that the lawyer said Jones: plays a character and is a performance artist, not he is “faking” or “it’s an act” as Steven Novella incorrectly described. )

    Regardless, like Cramer, we can argue Jones also plays a character on his show. So do news anchors, they act stern and serious. The news studio is set up in a deliberate way for aesthetic reasons, cameras are placed in certain places, pens are held in hands. These are all things that are done to enhance the entertainment value of the performance.

    We can relate personally because we also monitor our behavior and act differently in different situations. Some people are exceptions, but since things like: emotional labor, affect display and display rules, have been studied by psychologists and sociologists for many years we can say this is a real phenomena. Most people are not their true selves at work, their work persona is not the same as their private persona.

    There is no reason to conclude that Alex Jones is an exception and is that bound by these things. For example from some photos I’m looking at, it’s obvious he put effort into his appearance in recent years and looks like less of a casual slob for example, this could have something to do with starting an hd streaming service and departing from pure radio format. This is what a normal person would do, to present themselves in a more accessible way to the world. This is why HD makeup needed be invented, cameras can now pick up individual pores on your favorite anchor’s face.

    I would guess that most of the people here haven’t even checked out what Alex Jones actually does on that show. For example as someone commented here, if you think he believes there is a secret green alien conspiracy, you got your information from Saturday night live and not real life.

    Yes he does unforgivable things and promotes fake news, however that doesn’t give you the right to make things up. When you do this you are helping him and his fans, what do you think Alex Jones talked about the night after the SNL skit aired? What do you think his fans saw? They saw a bunch of actual lies about about Alex Jones, instead of a reasonable argument.

    You can argue that the SNL skit was for us, those who know nothing about the man or just hate him already. But can you see how the alt right hates Hollywood people and late night shows? They routinely mischaracterize their opponents.

  75. arnieon 20 Apr 2017 at 3:32 pm

    Actually, I agree with you Lightnotheat. It became pretty obvious pretty quickly that getting further into what was significant in our differences was only going to lead to even more ado and probably about even less so it’s clearly best to stay with ways we’re not really far apart substantively. Appreciate your comment.

  76. daedalus2uon 20 Apr 2017 at 4:11 pm

    I never used the term “evil”. But lying so as to try and make the world a worse place and to hurt innocent people is pretty close to what I would call evil.

    I never speculated as to what Alex Jones was thinking, I based my assessment solely on (what I understand to be) his actions.

    Being fake or not isn’t the issue. If Alex Jones was “faking” being a good parent, and could pull it off, then as long as he could stay in character, he would be a good parent.

    Being a good parent is (IMO), being a good role model. Children learn much more by observing how role models behave, then by being told what to do and then internalizing those rules told to them by authority figures.

    This is a divorce where the divorcing parents are contesting custody. That tells us that both parents care enough about who has custody of their children to spend at least hundreds of thousands on lawyers and a two week trial. That isn’t much information about the children’s mother, but it is also not “zero information” about the children’s mother.

    I am reminded of the apocryphal story in the Bible, where Solomon was called upon to decide a custody case. Being unable to decide based on the normal testimony, he called for his sword to divide the baby in half. That gave him new information on which to base his decision.

    There is no way that we can get anywhere close to the amount of information that is being presented at trial and on which the Jury will base their decision.

    I suspect that the reason that Dr Novella chose this particular story to write about is as a cautionary tale of what can happen if you embrace a conspiracy theory lifestyle. Alex Jones has portrayed himself as a conspiracy theorist, and has made a lot of money doing so. How much of it is an act? That is something that only Alex Jones can know.

    He is trying to play it both ways, making money pushing outrageous and offensive conspiracies that hurt people and endanger their lives, while now wanting to be considered a stable, upstanding member of society; fit to be a parent to 3 children when their mother asserts that he is not fit.

    I have compassion for Alex Jones. I am a parent, and being denied custody of one’s children is an excruciatingly difficult thing to bear. But a life choice to embrace a conspiracy theorist lifestyle (even if only as a performance artist) has consequences. Make yourself difficult to be understood and interpreted and people will misunderstand and misinterpret you.

  77. Sophieon 20 Apr 2017 at 6:03 pm

    daedalus2u,
    You keep replying, but this isn’t a conversation when you don’t actually read what I write, and respond to it. You are mostly talking to yourself, with me here talking into the wind, responding to what you say only to have it be ignored.

    You still did not do a single thing to address what I have said multiple times: you know next to nothing about one parent and a ton about Alex Jones.

    You can’t make a rational decision on who should get custody of his children based on this publicly available information you have. This is exactly why courts exist. This type of naive sense of justice and morality leads directly to anarchy and vigilantism.

    Indisputable facts:
    1) You are not the judge and these cases are decided in courts not by people in comment sections online
    2) You do not have the relevant information to make this decision, you would need the relevant legal expertise and authority, as well as all the information the actual judge has.3) If you read the actual article, you would stop putting your foot in your mouth and see that the real judge literally said: “This case is not about Infowars, and I don’t want it to be about Infowars.”

    Additionally I would also posit that you know very little about due process, law in general, and that you have no relevant expertise. Quoting the Bible is pretty decent evidence of this. Should we also stone adulterers, as per Leviticus? Obviously not right? But we should cite other cute convenient examples of justice being done from an old, very fictional and historically inaccurate text, and ignore modern legal practices? Not to nitpick, but the Solomon case is not a traditional custody case, it’s much closer to infant abduction, with an unstable woman advocating for a baby to be cut in half. A distinction I’m sure you will not care about.

    This is a divorce where the divorcing parents are contesting custody. That tells us that both parents care enough about who has custody of their children to spend at least hundreds of thousands on lawyers and a two week trial. That isn’t much information about the children’s mother, but it is also not “zero information” about the children’s mother.

    Someone did not do their homework at all. Directly from the article:

    Wilhite said the crux of Kelly Jones’ problem is that she has gone through one set of lawyers after another and some $3.5 million since her divorce settlement, much of it pursuing fruitless motion after motion that actually cost her access to her children each step of the way.

    Kelly Jones has also included in this current case, 172 separate allegations. And attempted to add on top of that, a 7 million dollar distress claim. I’m sure everyone has noticed that 7 million is exactly double the last settlement she got from Alex.

    But let’s all just pretend that money has nothing to do with this, that Alex
    Jones can’t possibly be a good parent and that he is for sure going to lose. And let’s take the arguments from this custody battle and use it to speculate into his mental state. This is all super logical. *sarcasm*

  78. RickKon 20 Apr 2017 at 7:21 pm

    Yes, we know nothing about the mother.

    We do know the father is a liar who incites people to violence and then covers his tracks when they act on his words. So if the mother is the worse parent, neither should have custody.

    And who cares if he’s faking – whether his malevolence is intentional or unintentional, it is still malevolence.

  79. Sophieon 20 Apr 2017 at 7:56 pm

    Rickk,
    He has lied, yes. He routinely is found to have lied about critical details about things. But when you label someone a liar, it’s an ad hominem that is pretty damning and a self-fulfilling prophecy that’s difficult to escape. It’s like calling someone a racist.

    The definition of liar, is just someone who tells lies, I tell lies, pretty often, (so do most people), I guess I’m a liar and can’t be trusted. Yes truth exists, yes some people lie more than others, but we should try to limit our judgments and keep open minds and not just dismiss someone because they are labelled a certain way.

    If you are having trouble seeing what I mean, look at the next thing you said, “incites people to violence,” now that’s a huge accusation. Please provide evidence, I’ll save you the trouble, it’s extremely difficult to prove something like the pizza gate shooting was Alex Jones’ fault. People have their own minds and decide to do things on their own, as far as I’m aware there is no way to directly connect Jones to that. The pizzagate thing was mentioned here earlier, maybe you have evidence about something else?

    Btw Jones apologized:
    http://thehill.com/homenews/325761-infowars-alex-jones-apologizes-for-pushing-pizzagate-conspiracy-theory

    About the who cares if he is faking, thank you, I made this same point. Steven cares apparently to speculate as to the nature of Alex Jones’ mind as you can see from the blog post above.

    The info is still out there, regardless if he is consciously tricking people or not. Someone mentioned Jon Ronson, I think this interview with him shows a very candid Alex Jones who almost admits that it’s kind of character.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnPDhyYEwxw

    If you go and look at his origins though, especially with Jon Ronson you kind of see this amateur conspiracy theorist who risks trespassing into bohemian grove and stuff. Also the movies he made seem very serious, it’s hard to imagine the person who made ‘Endgame’ doesn’t really believe a lot of this stuff.

    http://www.avclub.com/article/read-jon-ronson-rise-conspiracy-theorist-alex-jone-239901

    I also disagree with the narcissistic personality disorder thing that Daedalus offered up. It’s like when people say Trump has NPD. The way a disorder is defined, is that it has to interfere with your daily life to the point where you can’t function normally. Yes they both might be narcissists, but they are successful. Alex’s narcissism is rewarded with millions of dollars in magic cure sales and virility potions. And the other is… Oh that’s right, the president of the United States!

  80. Joe vandenEndenon 20 Apr 2017 at 10:53 pm

    Hey Sophie, enjoying your analysis. One problem, though. You say

    “The way a disorder is defined, is that it has to interfere with your daily life to the point where you can’t function normally. Yes they both might be narcissists, but they are successful. Alex’s narcissism is rewarded with millions of dollars in magic cure sales and virility potions. And the other is… Oh that’s right, the president of the United States!”

    These two men are undeniably “successful”, but are you really claiming that they are functioning “normally”? Their behaviour does not seem normal to me.

    Small quibbling point, and we differ very little, but these guys are Narcissists with a capital N, and are possibly NPD, though none of us are qualified to diagnose them.

    Carry on.

  81. Sophieon 20 Apr 2017 at 11:31 pm

    Joe,
    Yes thanks. One problem, Daedalus actually gave a link to an article about how Alex Jones might have NPD not just capital N, Narcissism.

  82. hardnoseon 21 Apr 2017 at 12:13 am

    Lightnotheat:

    “It’s weird sometimes how much you sound like the progressives you decry. At least a certain strain of them; in the last paragraph of your last post you sound almost exactly like a Green Party member.”

    I don’t think in terms of left vs right, or progressive vs conservative. Those categories don’t seem logical to me. If I think traditions are important then I’m a “conservative,” but if I think industry is destroying our planet, then I’m a “progressive” Green party member.

    So where is the logic? I have to fit all my opinions into one box or the other? A lot of people do that, but to me it’s illogical and unhelpful.

  83. BillyJoe7on 21 Apr 2017 at 12:44 am

    I wonder if Sophie is cozy’s mum, because she sounds like a somewhat more mature version of cozy.

  84. hardnoseon 21 Apr 2017 at 12:49 am

    My historical analysis:

    In the 1950s most people agreed on most things. Eisenhower was president and liberal Democrats liked him even though he was Republican. Everyone was kind of conservative and conventional. People were focused on having a nice middle-class life and raising their kids. I was a kid in the 1950s and it was really a wonderful time to be a kid — a mother who stayed home and planted flowers, a back yard to play in, a father who only worked 40 hours a week. Hardly anyone screaming about political controversies. We were expecting an atom bomb any minute, but aside from that it was fun.

    Then things changed in the 1960s. When everyone agrees, it can’t go on that way for very long. There has to be a counter-culture. There were various factions in the counter-culture, but what they all had in common was disdain for the conventional majority. The counter-culture hated everything that wasn’t perfect about the majority — racism, war, money, etc. I guess I was one of them — questioning everything and wondering why life wasn’t perfect.

    So now, we baby boomers have taken over the society and the counter-culture values have become normal. Don’t you dare call a woman pretty — what an insult! Don’t you know that women have brains just like men? Etc.

    So now the alt-right is the new counter-culture. Some people are thinking f-ck that, women are different from men, cultures are different, it’s ok to care about money, it’s ok to care about America, it’s ok to admit there are some Muslims who hate us and hate Jews.

    Alex Jones is just one alt-right website. I have only looked at it briefly, enjoyed watching his hysterics for a minute, then lost interest. NaturalNew is another — they supported Trump for a different reason, because they feel the mainstream majority has no respect for nature. Well it doesn’t, but Trump probably doesn’t either. Who knows.

    Skeptico is another alt-right website, although it was around before there was an alt-right. Skeptico is open-minded about the paranormal, so of course I like to read it. Why did they support Trump? I guess because progressives are becoming so anti-spiritual.

    So I have just described 3 alt-right themes:

    1. Opposing the conventional majority (which used to be the counter-culture in the 1960s)

    2. Respecting nature (as opposed to the atheists at this blog, for example)

    3. Spirituality vs atheism. Yes I know there are spiritual progressives. But conservative spirituality and progressive spirituality are very different.

  85. chikoppion 21 Apr 2017 at 8:36 am

    @hardnose

    I think you’re projecting quite a bit. Ask different people and they’ll all tell you “alt-right” stands for different things, including: anti-conservatism, white nationalism, anti-federalism, anti-globalism, historical patriarchy, etc.

    Also, those who associate with the alt-right are cheering loudest at the potential dismantling of the EPA, because the “stupid environment shouldn’t get in the way of private companies making profits you dumb cucks.”

    Maybe I’m wrong. Can you point to significant pro-environmental articles from dominant alt-right sources?

  86. RickKon 21 Apr 2017 at 9:20 am

    “In the 1950s most people agreed on most things.”

    LOL!!!!!!

    That’s mighty white of you, hardnose.

  87. RickKon 21 Apr 2017 at 9:57 am

    Sophie – regarding Alex Jones and violence – give me a break. Peruse the comments at Infowars, ask the stalkers and death-threat writers harassing the people of Newtown CT a few miles from me, and yes, look at the factors that led to Pizzagate. And someone who tells big, immediately-disprovable lies, and who sticks with them regardless of evidence can reasonably be labeled a liar. What other criteria would you use?

  88. Sophieon 21 Apr 2017 at 10:56 am

    hardnose,
    Let’s try an alternate reading of the 1950s. We are talking about the time period right after the Second World War, those horrors were certainly fresh in everyone’s mind, especially those of voting age. Maybe people liked Eisenhower because compared to the threat of a global dictatorship in the third Reich, literally any democratically elected president is preferable.

    Anyone who wasn’t a middle class(+) non-White male, would have a different view of the 1950s. If you were a woman, your husband could rape you and beat you, and you would have no legal recourse. You couldn’t really own property or advance in society without being attached to a male. Sexual harassment laws didn’t really exist, women were mistreated in a systematic way. This is just the other 50% of your fellow white people in the 1950s, and saying nothing of what it was like for African Americans…

    You are a baby boomer, this explains a lot. Your view of history doesn’t account for the majority of people who didn’t have the fun time you had in the 1950s. Not saying it wasn’t a blast for you, I personally would have had a rougher time.

    Trump is also a 50’s dude. He talks a lot about the golden age of America and making America great again. Problem is, America wasn’t so great back then.

    Rickk,
    We probably have a lot in common ideologically, I just don’t like the whole blame game. You can’t prove that some commenters on infowars are criminally involved in pizzagate we don’t even know for sure if he was a infowars listener, I mean I tried finding where he heard of it, I could not confirm this. It’s just hard to say yes for sure Alex Jones directly caused something like that. Free speech and trollism would explain the comments that you find problematic on that website, people are allowed to believe and say stupid insensitive things.

  89. daedalus2uon 21 Apr 2017 at 1:09 pm

    I guess you are right, I have not been addressing what you have been saying because I don’t think it is terribly relevant to the points I am trying to make. Whether Alex Jones is being “fake” is irrelevant to me. Whether he “really” is a conspiracy theorist or is just pretending to be one is irrelevant to me.

    What Alex Jones has done, is do things that have hurt and endangered people. Someone shot up a pizza place because of false crap that Alex Jones put on his website. Alex Jones knew it was false because he tried to scrub his website when the shooting happened.

    The analogy with George Clooney and other media personas is irrelevant to my thinking.

    I used the story of Solomon to illustrate that how the parents are behaving can provide information on their parenting ability. Spending huge amounts of money solely to try and hurt the other parent shows poor parenting ability. Attacking and abusing the other parent with hired proxies shows poor parenting ability. The adversarial divorce process pulls for adversarial interactions. That is unfortunate for the children.

    Talking about due process in divorce proceedings is irrelevant also. I am not a member of the Jury, my uninformed opinion has zero weight and I completely appreciate that I am uninformed as to a great many details that are important. I know I have essentially zero information about the children’s mother, and I am not following the case carefully at all, so I missed those details that it was millions already spent and hundreds of spurious motions. She sounds like she has a lot of issues too. I feel badly for the children that the adults in their life are not acting like responsible adults.

    My goal in making comments here is more to explore reasons why being a conspiracy theorist is a bad idea and might come back to hurt you in the future. I think that is what Alex Jones is experiencing now. I suspect that he now wishes he had been somewhat less extreme, and maybe had not put up those fake stories about PizzaGate or Sandy Hook.

    I suspect I have some schadenfreude, that Alex Jones is experiencing difficulties because of the fake stories he put out in his conspiracy theorist persona. I hope he learns from it and stops spreading fake stories that hurt people. I doubt that he will because that is how he makes a lot of money.

    I wish there were more consequences for preying on gullible people by feeding them fake news and conspiracy stories. It was fake news that got Trump elected (in my opinion) which has already greatly set back dealing with global warming. If humans don’t effectively deal with global warming, there will be humanitarian disasters the likes of which the world has never seen, with hundreds of millions either resettled as refugees or dead.

    It is likely that the Syrian crisis was started by drought, exacerbated by climate change. Climate change that will get worse without effective action, and effective action is being stalled by AGW deniers who are now running the Trump Administration.

  90. hardnoseon 21 Apr 2017 at 1:49 pm

    Sophie:

    “Trump is also a 50’s dude. He talks a lot about the golden age of America and making America great again. Problem is, America wasn’t so great back then.”

    There was nothing in my comment saying America was “great” in the 1950s. “Great” means entirely different things to different people. I said it was a time of conformity and conventionality. I think that is common knowledge.

    Yes, it was great being a child in a family where the mother didn’t have to work and the father was home evenings and weekends. Those days are probably gone for most Americans. Not because of Democrats or Republicans, just because society evolved that way.

    But that was not the point of my comment, just an aside. My point was there was a consensus majority right after WWII. America had proven itself as a great military power. That great military power resulted from its successful industrialism, and maybe other factors; it depends how you prefer to look at things.

    The progressive narrative focuses on civil rights, and how that has improved since the beginning of this country. America (and I mean USA when I say America, of course) was founded in reaction to the inequality of the old world.

    In Europe, you were born into your class and could not easily escape. Also, you had to follow the state religion. America was a reaction to that. The philosophy was that all “men” are created “equal.” The word “equal” did not mean everyone has a right to a nice house and health care. It meant you were allowed to change your life from whatever you were born into.

    And, of course, at the beginning they only thought about male European landowners. Gradually this expanded to mean all adults. Slavery had been practiced in many or most societies, including African and Native American tribes. But as the definition of civil rights gradually expanded, slavery became immoral, and women became human beings.

    That all got started because of “Enlightenment” philosophy, and rebellion against the old aristocracy.

    Early America was a place for hard-working, self-reliant, entrepreneurs and farmers.

    Yes, there were gradually expanding civil rights, but there was also toughness. There was probably more security under the old feudal system, where lords were supposed to look out for their subjects (not that they always did).

    Maybe you can see how things get turned around and distorted. “Progressive” doesn’t mean the same thing today that it used to. Words keep evolving but people try to use them the same old ways.

    Your assumption, as a typical progressive, is that things should continue getting better and better for everyone. “Freedom” doesn’t mean independence and self-reliance to you — it means freedom from the troubles of life and the harsh realities most people have always faced.

    Maybe wanting that is understandable, but expecting it is very naive.

    You are mystified about how anyone can be a non-progressive, especially people who are not rich. I think if you look more carefully at the meaning of the words and how they evolved, you might be a little less mystified.

  91. Sophieon 21 Apr 2017 at 4:55 pm

    daedalus2u,
    Awesome comment. I agree with most of what you have to say, you seem like a pretty decent person who cares about what’s best for people. I share a lot of the views you have expressed.

    There’s just some technical problems, for example, due process is hugely relevant, it refers to the fact that even someone like a pedophile, has rights that must be respected. No matter how despicable a person we need to give them a fair chance at a defense and their day in court.

    Now I know this isn’t a very popular opinion, many people think lawyers who defend pedophiles are horrible human beings themselves, and you can find people everywhere who call for the death sentence as soon as there is any allegation in the news. Everyone deserves a fair shake.

    I think Alex Jones is contributing to the problems our country faces, and I was horrified when Trump normalized him. But I still will stand up and defend his rights as a citizen. I disagree with almost everything Mr Milo Yiannopoulos / Ann Coulter / Richard Spencer has to say, but I will also stand up for them, and say that violent protests are not okay.

    Alex Jones did not directly tell anyone to shoot up anything. I also feel obliged to say no one was shot or killed or even injured as a result of that pizzagate shooting thing. He fired shots into the place but hit no one. I’m not saying that makes it okay, I just feel like that’s an important detail. Arguing that one mentally ill person was motivated to do something like that by Alex Jones is a weak argument. It’s like saying that the dark knight shooter was influenced by all the batman posters and stuff in his room. Or that the columbine shooting was motivated by whatever. Or the Orlando shooting was motivated solely by radical Islamic terror, when later we find out he would frequent the club, use gay hook up apps all the time, and he had all sorts of other problems other than an internal homoerotic/homophobia struggle.

    The common thread in all these attacks is mental health issues. Sometimes people who need professional help, go out and do bad things. Yes if some of them happen to listen to Alex Jones, then technically they get some ideas from him, is he the cause of this violence? No.

    You always have to ask yourself: what is the alternative? If Alex Jones didn’t exist would the world be better? It’s a hard question to answer, but I would say no. We didn’t fix anything about the world fundamentally by taking Alex Jones off the air, those mentally ill people are still going to be out there looking for something to be mad about. They will just find someone else. Alex Jones isn’t even the biggest conspiracy person is he? I’m not sure. Either way his audience would flock to the next closest thing. And so on. If you took them all off the air and internet, then new people would spring up to fill the vacuum.

    When you put the world’s problems on one person you are leaving out fundamental human nature and the real issues.

    hardnose,

    I tried. I put a lot of conscious effort and patience into my replies to you, I try my best, you still feel like I misrepresented you, I’m sorry. But it really looked to me like you were describing a world where people got along, loved the government and had an idyllic time growing flowers with mom in the backyard.

    I think most people would see exactly what I saw in what you wrote about the 1950s. You didn’t challenge what I said. Everything I said still stands, even if you weren’t talking about your lovely white middle class childhood and were actually paradoxically talking about conformity and freedom at the same time.

    Your historical analysis is deeply flawed, it’s a whitewashing of reality.

    There were huge problems in that society. And what you said about how everyone back then agreed on most things is just wrong, plain and simple. Certainly non-whites and the women of the time would have some choice words to share with you.

    Your casual dismissal of the slavery issue was pretty weak. Yes many different societies had slavery. That doesn’t mean that early America wasn’t a society economically dependent on slaves. America didn’t just thrive because of its ideas about freedom like you claim. It was the new world, Europe was hungry and dying, there’s more evidence from a simple geographical perspective for why America thrived than your entire ideological argument.

    You have this very specific understanding of American history. You gloss over things like martial rape, and segregation to talk about the wonderful idyllic life in suburbia, planting flowers with mom in the backyard while daddy went to work.

    At a certain point you have to stop and say no this isn’t innocent reminiscing, it’s an argument appealing to a messed up past where a privileged kid had an okay time. When people point this out to you, and you carry on, it’s not just ignorance at that point, it’s morally bankrupt.

    I’m not a typical progressive so I don’t understand this rant of yours about progressivism. “Progress” doesn’t appear anywhere in my comment to you. However, sure, I do believe in progressive social policies, I think trans people exist and should be able to use whatever bathroom they want. Lemme ask you, did your idyllic 1950s world have room for transgendered individuals? How about gay men? Oh they would get arrested….

    You can be progressive about issues like that and not be a crazy modern liberal that cheers setting their own school on fire to prevent an alt right person from speaking.

    I know there is a limited amount of wealth and not everyone can have everything. I understand the principle of scarcity. However I do also know that there is a lot of income inequality in this country. Big corporations lobby the government against increasing minimum wage while the CEOs take in millions. And it’s not just foolish liberals like me that recognize these things, Warren Buffett has been talking about it for years and pledged to donate his billions.

  92. daedalus2uon 21 Apr 2017 at 5:23 pm

    A lot of rhetoric is designed to inflame certain people until they commit violence. I think it is pretty clear that the man who shot George Tiller was motivated by rhetoric about abortion. It is pretty clear to me that the language that some people use is designed to cause violence, but is not specific enough to be prosecuted as an incitement to violence.

    There is a term called “Schrodinger’s terrorist”; which is someone who is eventually motivated to do a terrorist act by “free speech” that eggs them on to do it. The man who shot George Tiller could be called a Schrodinger’s terrorist.

    There is minimal scholarship in what Charles Murray talks about. It is fake news, designed to marginalize and denigrate certain populations and maintain a certain economic structure. The Bell Curve was known to be wrong when it was first published. Lewontin showed that there was no such genetic thing as human races 45 years ago. The data proving there are no genetic human races has only gotten stronger. The idea that there are human genetic races has been falsified.

    A lot of what the Alt-Right is doing is designed to inflame people until they commit terrorist acts (in my opinion). That is why there has been an uptick in violence against Muslims since Trump’s election, and an increase in violence against PoC and against women.

    I don’t know how to counter these things effectively.

  93. daedalus2uon 21 Apr 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Now Alex Jones is asking the press to be “respectful and responsible”.

    Like how he was with PizzaGate and Sandy Hook?

    http://www.rawstory.com/2017/04/alex-jones-asks-the-press-to-be-respectful-and-responsible-in-coverage-of-his-custody-battle/#.WPp7_3zqTeU.facebook

  94. Sophieon 21 Apr 2017 at 6:01 pm

    Again I can sympathize with you and see what you are saying. I just don’t see how you can argue that the alt-right rhetoric is intentionally designed to incite violence. They would certainly disagree and point to the millions of daily viewers who don’t go out and do violent things. Breitbart exists as an alternative news company, cofounded by Steve Bannon. You can see a clear political bias in everything they do and a way to build a certain narrative, but you can’t argue that an alt-right bastion like that exists to incite violence. You can easily argue it helped Trump get elected and it exists to cash in on that movement.

    I think you are missing my point about how literally nothing significant about the current state of things would change if you magically removed Alex Jones and all mentions of the alt-right from the world.

    People would still be people, they would still seek out racist movements and things that tell them what they already believe. Hardnose put it cogently when he said that Alex Jones just tells people what they already believe, that the government is lying to you and doesn’t care about you. Those people will always seek out that type of media.

    Maybe we can detach with a related example:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/red-pill-mens-rights-anti-feminist-group-who-know-what-women-want/

    I don’t know if you ever checked out the “red pill” movement, but it’s an illustrative example of this phenomenon that’s maybe easier for us to talk about. Some guys want to be sexist, so they justify it. They go online and find other misogynistic/ sexist men to hangout with and talk about how feminism is a scam and it screwed them over.

    If we scrubbed the red pill group from the internet nothing would change, another thing like it would pop up soon. The men would still go around being jerks and talking like they are enlightened superhumans escaping the matrix.

    In fact there exists parallel movements like gamergate, the online campaign against women’s involvement in the video game industry. These people are all wrong, it should be obvious to everyone, but some how they don’t see it, they want to be jerks and have all the video games to themselves. If you take a step back and look at it you can see that it’s a harassment movement. They don’t see it that way. They think somehow it’s appropriate to protest the involvement of women in video games, just like the red pill guys think it’s okay to blame feminism for why their girlfriend left them.

    All this boils down to people being themselves. Change is hard. Personal development is difficult. It’s hard to stop being a racist. It’s much easier to find the things online that feed this darkness within you.

    I don’t know how to fix it either. I know that it’s a difficult problem that isn’t solved by blaming one person or group. I also know that removing the person or group from the equation doesn’t solve the problem. We need to raise the bar and educate everyone, we can’t just see it as us vs them.

  95. daedalus2uon 21 Apr 2017 at 6:09 pm

    I think that there is positive feedback with these groups, and the more there are, the faster they grow and the more extreme they become.

    It isn’t one person or one group, it is the ecosystem of groups that grow and feed on each other through positive peer pressure. I agree with you about gamergate and MRAs and the like.

    Removing one person or one group from the ecosystem would only have a small effect. I think the effect would be non-zero, but that is a tough thing to show or demonstrate.

    Positive growth following the election of Trump is pretty easy to see. Was that due to Trump? Or was it due to the Russian trolls and bots spreading these types of memes during the election?

    To change the growth dynamic, there needs to be an ecosystem-level approach.

  96. Sophieon 21 Apr 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Okay so you argue feedback loop, I argue millions of people who follow this stuff who are not radicalized and pushed to violence. I don’t see a lot of alt-right inspired acts of violence in the news, yes there is some, but it’s nothing like you would predict if there was this feedback loop pushing people to extremism.

  97. hardnoseon 21 Apr 2017 at 7:00 pm

    “You gloss over things like martial rape, and segregation to talk about the wonderful idyllic life in suburbia, planting flowers with mom in the backyard while daddy went to work.”

    You completely miss the whole point of why I mentioned the 1950s. You think I was saying it was a wonderful time we should go back to. Because SOME people say that you read it into what I said, even though I DID NOT SAY IT.

    I was talking about cultures and counter-cultures, but you missed the point oh well, you are going to stick with your stereotypes.

  98. hardnoseon 21 Apr 2017 at 7:05 pm

    “Hardnose put it cogently when he said that Alex Jones just tells people what they already believe, that the government is lying to you and doesn’t care about you.”

    Maybe I am reading into this, but it seems like you’re implying the government is NOT lying and it DOES care.

  99. RickKon 21 Apr 2017 at 7:24 pm

    hardnose said: “My point was there was a consensus majority right after WWII. ”

    Absolutely false. OMG, Dude, read some actual history. All you have is this narrative in your head that you think is truth, and it is apparently impervious to actual facts.

    Simple fact: The Democrats lost 28 House seats in 1950 and 22 in 1952. Does that sound like an atmosphere of consensus to you? There was a massive political divide, and much of the country wanted very badly to “throw the bums out” – the bums that just won the war. It is true that the world’s labor force was decimated and America was at the beginning of a massive upward economic curve. Yet there was still rampant political vitriol.

    As a specific example: I’m right in the middle of the China debate in David Halberstam’s “The Coldest Winter”. Why don’t you pick up a copy and learn about how violently the Conservatives blamed the Liberals for their failure to support the Nationalist Chinese government, and for “allowing” Mao to take power. This was big news.

    Oh, by the way – the Truman security program investigated 6.6 million Americans between 1947 and 1952 and found not one case of espionage. Does that seem conducive to national consensus? Ever hear of McCarthy?

    And, as Sophie pointed out, you’re viewing this from an extremely limited and privileged position. I’m not at all well read on the African American perspective in the 1950s, but the most cursory review of the situation makes your “consensus” statements absurd.

    Read some books!!!!!

    But, if you stay true to form, your ignorance of your own ignorance will protect you and nothing will ever convince you that you might be wrong in one of your opinions.

  100. RickKon 21 Apr 2017 at 7:28 pm

    hardnose said: “Maybe I am reading into this, but it seems like you’re implying the government is NOT lying and it DOES care.”

    Of course, the government is a monolith made of robots all acting under coordinated control. It couldn’t possibly be a diverse organization populated by normal human beings, some of whom operate purely out of self interest and job protection, some of whom want to do the right thing and fail, and some of whom want to do the right thing and succeed. It must be a soulless crushing entity, and the hyper-efficient and helpful people that now answer the phone on the Medicare and Social Security help lines must be computer AIs. There can’t be actual real people in the government who get things right. That would be impossible.

  101. daedalus2uon 21 Apr 2017 at 8:24 pm

    I agree that millions are not radicalized to the point of violence, but certainly hundreds are. Maybe thousands are. The goal of many on the Alt-right is to increase the number of radicalized individuals. That is the goal of Antifa, that is the goal of ISIS, that is the goal of the KKK, of the skinheads, that is the goal of all of the extremist groups.

    Fake news is one of the ways they do that. Conspiracy theories that fit the narrative of the radicalizing group is one way they do that. Violence at protests is one of the ways they do that. False flag operations is one of the ways they do that. Falsely claiming false flag operations (like what Alex Jones said about Sandy Hook) is one of the ways that they do that.

    That is what Anders Behring Breivik was trying to do when he killed 77 young people in Norway.

    That is what Le Pen is trying to do in France. That is what Brexit is trying to do in the UK. Radicalize people to the point of violence so that “elites” can take more power. There is considerable thought that the recent ISIS attacks in Paris were to get more electoral support for Le Pen.

  102. Sophieon 21 Apr 2017 at 9:23 pm

    hardnose,
    Oh look at me I’m such a dummy for liking the government, everyone laugh at me, hardnose discovered how I’m brainwashed.

    Yes, I believe the government is pretty decent, I am definitely a believer. Especially now, look at the other branches of government reigning in Trump’s craziest ideas. It’s a lesson in civics, we are living in a crucial historical time period that will be extensively covered in future history books.

    Does the government lie? Sure. Do they build schools, take care of highways and hire police officers, yes. I know we have a problem with cops right now in this country, but at least they keep the cartels from running everything, extorting and kidnapping people. Kidnappings for ransom are a regular everyday occurrence in many places.

    What I’ve noticed about you hardnose is that you are never really talking about anything, as soon as you get called on something you run to the hills and build a new fortress to hide in.

    Okay so upon rereading what you wrote, I guess it can be read that way. Problem is, there are still many problems. You clarified and said that there was much more political consensus, this is just not true as has been explained. Also depending on how you define consensus this is just pointless, because there has always been some kind of political consensus, this is a democracy after all. You claimed that America was a place for hard working people and FREEDOM. But you glossed over the whole slavery issue.

    Reword what you said. Because I honestly don’t know what you are talking about. Also how we got here from you justifying the existence of Alex Jones and refusing to admit the newyork times is better than infowars, I don’t understand that either.

    Rickk,
    The government is all, we are one with its mighty tentacles, take me and replace me with a reptilian, I am ready to enter the subterranean base.

    daedalus2u,
    You keep not acknowledging the role that mental illness plays in attacks. We will likely always have mentally ill people who do things like this. This is a separate issue to fake news and things. For example you are also neglecting that some fake news stories are written and spread just to make money from the ads loading on the page. Alex Jones doesn’t spend so much time selling virility potions to directly make people attack things. If that was his goal why not solely focus on selling firearm accessories, knives, guides on how to kill people quickly and escape into the darkness etc.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/fake-news-how-partying-macedonian-teen-earns-thousands-publishing-lies-n692451

    This kid didn’t make his fake news stories to promote or fun violent acts.

    You have a very specific approach to this issue that is neglecting tons of relevant details.

  103. Sophieon 22 Apr 2017 at 12:31 pm

    Steven,
    Alex Jones has clarified as to the claims of playing a character and being a performance artist. Which you inappropriately summarized as “faking” and “it’s an act.”

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/alex-jones-infowars-defends-himself-amid-custody-battle/

    “I am an actor, we’re all actors, but I believe in what I stand for.”

    https://www.buzzfeed.com/charliewarzel/alex-jones-testimony?utm_term=.sbDLmjj1we#.ob0w3LL4EQ

    Not the best source but this testimony has been quoted all over.

    https://www.buzzfeed.com/charliewarzel/alex-jones-testimony?utm_term=.sbDLmjj1we#.ob0w3LL4EQ

    “While on the stand, Jones compared himself to John Oliver and Stephen Colbert and pointed out in frustration that Colbert had accused him this week of being a performance artist and fraud.”

    I was a crazy person for saying these arguments a few days ago. Starting on the 18th, before these additional details emerged.

    No “character” doesn’t automatically mean he is “faking it,” and doesn’t really “believe” the things he promotes.

  104. mumadaddon 22 Apr 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Sophie,

    Actually, you have a fair point — this was an angle that was missed in SN’s original post and is at the very least plausible (I haven’t read your links); and having re-read your first 10 or so comments I can see that you were, reasonably, arguing for consideration of this angle.

    So I mostly retract my harsh criticism from the other thread (though you did, for some reason, post a long definition of trolling then proceed to level it at others. Not sure why you did that.).

  105. Sophieon 22 Apr 2017 at 12:58 pm

    I mean go look at some of the comments, they do no even reference the things I have said or the article in question, but instead proceed to attack me personally. That’s why I posted that.

  106. Sophieon 22 Apr 2017 at 12:59 pm

    But thank you for considering the things I said.

  107. daedalus2uon 22 Apr 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Sophie, you are mistaken in the role that “mental illness” plays in violence. People with most DSM V mental illnesses are not more likely to commit acts of violence. They are more likely to be victims of violence from people who are not diagnosed.

    Toxic masculinity is a completely different story, but that is not categorized as a “mental illness”. Having a compulsion for acquiring weapons and virility potions are both signs of toxic masculinity and are positively associated with violence; against women, gays, and others.

    Media outlets promote fake news because it drives ad clicks. Outrageous fake news drives even more traffic to a site.

    The Alt-right ans similar right-wing groups are consumers of media and they are using it to further their agenda of race wars and white supremacy and genocide against those they hate.

    Conspiracy theorists are particularly easy to manipulate via fake news because they have marginal reality testing. Alex Jones has been preying on and exploiting those people. Some of his exploitation merely harms those he addresses (virility potions, dubious investments), some harm others (people caught up in his Sandy Hook and PizzaGate stories).

    Eliminating fake news, or requiring labeling that it is fake news would help a great deal in getting everyone working and living in a common reality. If people can’t handle reality, fine, they can live in a version of “reality” that they can handle. But exploiting and harming people by lying to them is wrong, even if it is “legal”.

  108. Sophieon 22 Apr 2017 at 5:42 pm

    I’m not trying to stigmatize mentally ill peope I’m just saying that it’s an indisputable fact that mental illness plays a role in mass shootings and stuff. Go learn about the dark knight shooting, columbine, Orlando. You can’t seriously claim that those people were healthy individuals. You are also starting to contradict yourself, you previously said that alt-right news outlets exist to radicalize peope. That is certainly not the case. They exist to make money and for various others reasons. They also have millions of daily viewers that are not pushed to violence.

  109. daedalus2uon 23 Apr 2017 at 9:29 am

    Virtually the entire mental health community disputes your assertion.

    Do a search on

    mental health mass shootings

    and virtually the entire first page is all about how there isn’t a link.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/most-mass-shooters-arent-mentally-ill-so-why-push-better-treatment-as-the-answer/2016/05/17/70034918-1308-11e6-8967-7ac733c56f12_story.html?utm_term=.0ddbdff7afab

  110. Sophieon 23 Apr 2017 at 10:56 am

    Again, I did not say every case is explained by mental illness I said it plays a role. Multiple times now, my language has not changed. The relationship is complex, and obviously not a simple black and white comparison. Do they play a role? Yes. Are they the only case or issue to consider? No. We need more research and analysis.
    Actually this is the first result on google when I searched, they break down and analyze this issue and say many things that support your arguments, but even they have to admit:

    Reports suggest that up to 60% of perpetrators of mass shootings in the United States since 1970 displayed symptoms including acute paranoia, delusions, and depression before committing their crimes. Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooter James Holmes “was seeing a psychiatrist specializing in schizophrenia” before he opened fire in a crowded theater.

    Evidence strongly suggests that mass shooters are often mentally ill and socially marginalized. Enhanced psychiatric attention may well prevent particular crimes. And, to be sure, mass shootings often shed light on the need for more investment in mental health support networks or improved state laws and procedures regarding gun access.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4318286/

    When you say things like: the alt-right and Alex Jones exists to radicalize people to commit violent acts, you are neglecting the complexity. You can’t tell me that the aurora shooter was a mentally stable normal average person. You can’t argue that effectively. There are also many other cases that do not fall into your narrative. There are millions of people who are not radicalized everyday. There are many other reasons as to why Alex Jones exists.

  111. daedalus2uon 23 Apr 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Nice way to cherry-pick

    And I didn’t say that zero cases of shootings can be explained by mental illness, or that people with mental illness never perpetrate mass shootings.

    Those “reports” of “up to 60% of perpetrators” were mass media reports by non-mental health professionals. The same reference you cited also states:

    “Yet surprisingly little population-level evidence supports the notion that individuals diagnosed with mental illness are more likely than anyone else to commit gun crimes. According to Appelbaum,25 less than 3% to 5% of US crimes involve people with mental illness, and the percentages of crimes that involve guns are lower than the national average for persons not diagnosed with mental illness. Databases that track gun homicides, such as the National Center for Health Statistics, similarly show that fewer than 5% of the 120 000 gun-related killings in the United States between 2001 and 2010 were perpetrated by people diagnosed with mental illness.26”

    “At the same time, the literatures we surveyed suggest that these seemingly self-evident assumptions about mass shootings are replete with problematic assumptions, particularly when read against current and historical literatures that address guns, violence, and mental illness more broadly. On the aggregate level, the notion that mental illness causes gun violence stereotypes a vast and diverse population of persons diagnosed with psychiatric conditions and oversimplifies links between violence and mental illness.”

    and also

    “Media reports often assume a binary distinction between mild and severe mental illness, and connect the latter form to unpredictability and lack of self-control. However, this distinction, too, is called into question by mental health research. To be sure, a number of the most common psychiatric diagnoses, including depressive, anxiety, and attention-deficit disorders, have no correlation with violence whatsoever.18 Community studies find that serious mental illness without substance abuse is also “statistically unrelated” to community violence.40 At the aggregate level, the vast majority of people diagnosed with psychiatric disorders do not commit violent acts—only about 4% of violence in the United States can be attributed to people diagnosed with mental illness.41,42”

    I think we are not communicating well.

    It is well known that mass shootings drive up gun sales. Alex Jones pushes a meme of gun confiscation by “liberal” authorities, which also drives up gun sales. Especially with those with a loose grip on reality. That those who watch Alex Jones buy the products his advertisers sell is understandable. That Alex Jones tailors his conspiracy theory rants to cater to those with toxic masculinity is unfortunate and makes our society less safe.

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/piers-morgan-calls-undignified-alex-jones-the-best-advertisement-for-gun-control/

    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/alex-jones-gun-owners-will-be-forced-into-ghettos-and-rounded-up-like-jews-in-nazi-germany/

  112. Sophieon 23 Apr 2017 at 12:52 pm

    I did say that the source I used has content that supports your argument. It’s not cherrypicking when I openly admitted that.

    What you said:

    A lot of what the Alt-Right is doing is designed to inflame people until they commit terrorist acts (in my opinion). That is why there has been an uptick in violence against Muslims since Trump’s election, and an increase in violence against PoC and against women.

    That is wrong or unknowable. It’s not even a testable hypothesis. The rhetoric is designed to speak to their audience. To tell them what they already believe. To drive net traffic and to sell products. Or to win elections. We don’t know precisely. We do for sure know that it’s not exclusively designed to inspire violence attacks, if this was the case Alex Jones would not sell vitality potions but exclusively focus on products related to death and violence. Breitbart would not sell coffee mugs and stuff. They would focus all the energy on selling products that inspire hate. Not everything they do is to encourage violence. That is demonstrably false.

    I never said most people with mental illness commit violent acts. Mental illness plays a role, that’s what I said. The dark knight shooter was not mentally stable. If the role is small then fine. It’s still a role.

  113. Sophieon 23 Apr 2017 at 12:58 pm

    There are many different types of mental illness. Not all of them are going to be correlated with violent acts. But stuff like schizophrenia and depression have been linked. And 3% is nothing to scoff at that still translates to real numbers. Real violent attacks. Real deaths.

  114. daedalus2uon 23 Apr 2017 at 6:09 pm

    You are implying that there is a causal relationship between “mental illness” resulting in violent acts.

    https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers

    If that was the case, then the number of violent perpetrators would exceed the number of those with mental illness in the population. (because violent perpetrators would be more highly represented among those with a mental illness). This is not the case. The fraction of violent acts perpetrated by people with mental illness is less than the fraction of people with mental illness.

    People with mental illness are less likely to perpetrate violent acts than people without mental illness.

    Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.1
    Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—9.8 million, or 4.0%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.2
    Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.3
    1.1% of adults in the U.S. live with schizophrenia.4
    2.6% of adults in the U.S. live with bipolar disorder.5
    6.9% of adults in the U.S.—16 million—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.6
    18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.7
    Among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.8

    I said it was my opinion. It is well known (by some) that inflammatory rhetoric inflames some people to commit violence. It is my opinion that the people using inflammatory rhetoric know this too, and that is why they use inflammatory rhetoric.

    Can I prove it? No, but whether inflammatory rhetoric that eggs on people to commit violence is actionable will soon be tested. Donald Trump is being sued for his inflammatory speech that compelled some of his followers to commit violence against demonstrators.

  115. Sophieon 23 Apr 2017 at 7:07 pm

    Things I never said:
    1 all mentally ill people commit violent acts
    2 mental illness is the only variable to consider
    – –
    Yes I am implying there is a causal connection between mental illness and violent acts. The 4% is found in other journal articles I’ve been reading. That’s all I need. 4%.

    If 4% of the violent acts can be directly connected to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression then that’s all I need in order to have statement, ‘mental illness plays a role,’ vindicated. That 4% translates to real deaths. Don’t trivialize it.

    Your overall stats are misleading. Not all mental illness are going to be correlated so when you look at overall/aggregate stats for a blanket term like “mental illness” you are going to find a lot of noise. I know that statistically speaking the greatest threat someone with a serious mental disorder poses is to themselves and not others. The suicide stats are staggering.

    My statements were not said in a vacuum. They were in direct response to your opinions on the alt-right (which I honestly respect). I said those things to highlight some problems with your arguments that the alt-right and Alex Jones exist to radicalize their listeners. What I had in mind was the idea that millions follow the alt-right media and millions do not act, however a small subset of them might be especially vulnerable and easily influenced to do horrible things.

    Gun violence and mass shootings, in particular, are a difficult thing to understand. It’s sadly gone without being thoroughly researched for political reasons. Poverty, education level, ease of access, low impulse control, are all connected.

    These are the actual reasons mass shootings occur:
    http://observer.com/2016/08/these-are-the-actual-reasons-mass-shootings-occur/

  116. daedalus2uon 23 Apr 2017 at 7:48 pm

    “Mental illness” was the term that we were using. Why would we look at statistics other than statistics on “mental illness”?

    No, if the number of violent acts associated with schizophrenia is 4%, and there are 8% schizophrenics in the population, then there is a reduced association of violence with schizophrenia. Having mental illness issues might reduce violence.

    If 96% of violent acts are associated with people who are don’t have mental illness issues, why don’t we look into those who don’t have mental illness issues?

    They seem to be a lot more dangerous than people with mental illness issues?

    You brought up mental illness as something that I was neglecting, and have presented no data that mental illness is a common factor in mass shootings other than reports by mainstream media that play into the “crazy gunman” meme that is pushed by the NRA to ensure that nothing effective is done to control guns, and that memes are pushed to sell more and more guns.

    The NRA won’t even allow the CDC to collect data on gun violence, so the data on who is perpetrating this violence and why remains poor.

  117. Sophieon 23 Apr 2017 at 8:54 pm

    These numbers of yours are not accurate and you seem to be making some statistical errors. Let’s just step back from that for a second. It’s not my objective to nitpick, I want to keep this productive and I agree with most of what you say.

    Mental illness is a broad term. Depending on how we define it we can account for many things or just diagnosed cases. For example is a temporary bout of depression a mental illness? Classically no, but it can be seen as such. It’s certainty a psychological (mental) effect that has a direct impact on someone’s decision making, that may not be in their best interests.

    Let’s ask instead: If someone commits a mass shooting, are they in that moment psychologically healthy?

    I have a really hard time imagining a rational argument for the case that they are healthy.

    Mental illnesses are usually defined as having a ong term negative impact on someone’s daily life. It’s easy to see how major depression interferes with my daily life, for example. Committing suicide would also interfere with my daily life.
    But getting fired or going to jail for compulsively masturbating in public would also directly interfere with my daily life. And diagnosing criteria even takes into account run ins with the law.
    Committing a violent act such as a mass shooting as a result of low impulse control, combined with a grievance, and going to jail or being killed as a result, would also have a negative impact on daily life.

    Many adults go through temporary periods of depression throughout their lives. Without treatment. Mental illnesses are also stigmatized and go undiagnosed.

    If the dark knight shooter, walked into a psychiatrist office, hours before the attack would mental healthcare professionals give him a clean bill of health? How about the Orlando shooter, or the perpetrators of Columbine? Virginia tech? Sandy hook?

    The culture has a huge role to play. The media coverage surrounding these events is also a motivating factor we could argue. But yes mental illness, psychological instability whatever you want to call it, plays a role. It’s a combination of factors. Many people, me and you included, heard about pizzagate, only one person went and attacked the place. Many people are fired everyday, only a few go back with a gun to take out their grievances. If everyone went to counseling on a regular basis, or in moments of crisis, we would see a serious drop in these attacks.

    I highly recommend you check out this article on why these shooting happen in the observer. There is a lot of content in there that supports your arguments.

    http://observer.com/2016/08/these-are-the-actual-reasons-mass-shootings-occur/

  118. daedalus2uon 24 Apr 2017 at 9:52 am

    This discussion is no longer productive for me.

    Conflating “mental illness” with being not “in that moment psychologically healthy” is absurd and does nothing to advance the debate on causes of mass shootings, or any shootings, or any violence. It is designed (consciously or not) to confuse the issue by conflating things which are poorly understood at best by experts, and not understood at all by policy makers. It is typical of the confusion sowed by those trying to push conspiracy theories to sell ads (such as Alex Jones), and those trying to prevent rational gun regulation to enhance gun industry profits (such as the NRA).

  119. Sophieon 25 Apr 2017 at 11:15 am

    The problem is that most shootings occur when people have a serious grievance, low impulse control and easy access to a gun.

    This grievance is often an emotional feeling and it’s completely mental: like getting fired from from your job, having your girlfriend/wife leave you.

    You can’t possibly argue that those mass shooters are mentally stable in the moment they chose to act. No mental health care professional would have given the dark knight shooter a clean bill of health in the minutes leading up to his actions.

    Many mental disorders are linked to low impulse control, and we have all done something foolishly impulsive while experiencing some heightened emotional state. An awkward romantic advance, a word that should have gone unsaid, a punch.

    Deeply emotional grievances, can directly increase your impulsivity. Combine that with a device designed to put bullet shaped holes in people, and you have a real problem.

    It’s common knowledge that mental illness is more than just diagnosed illnesses, things like crises do regularly happen and have profound impacts on how people behave, and they are purely mental phenomena. It’s not the getting fired that causes the workplace shootings, it’s the internal/mental conflict that happens in some people.

    Claiming that I’m conflating mental illness with temporarily bouts of mental instability is a weak argument. It also happens to ignore all the legal arguments on these topics. Go check out what some of the living mass shooters are diagnosed with, their legal defenses in court, what the experts say. Go learn about the difference between manslaughter and murder. Emotional impulsivity is a factor to consider in many cases like this.

  120. Sophieon 25 Apr 2017 at 11:19 am

    Oh and don’t forget how we got here my friend. I tried to explain how you didn’t have enough information to decide that Jones should not get custody. You spiraled into this tirade about how evil he was, and his website’s purpose is to radicalize people to commit violent acts. I said nope there are many other reasons these websites exist mainly for profit. And I said that only some people commit these acts out of millions of daily listeners. I said that mental illness plays a role and here we are.

    Emotional instability, leading to an impulsive act, can be easily studied as a mental phenomena. Many adults regularly go through temporary bouts of depression throughout their lives without seeking treatment.

  121. CKavaon 26 Apr 2017 at 3:59 am

    Sophie,

    Your argument is a tautology.

    You are arguing that performing a mass shooting is evidence of mental illness. If this premise is accepted then it is impossible for your thesis to be incorrect; all mass shootings must involve mental illness. As daedalus2u notes this is all rather reminiscent of the arguments favoured by the NRA (and repeated by Trump).

    Similarly, if we follow your recommendations and expand the definition of mental illness to include emotional instability/feelings of grievance following stressful situations then it would seem everyone on the planet should be defined as suffering from ‘mental illness’.

    I’m not sure what would the benefit would be from adopting such broad definitions though, beyond enabling you to retain the satisfaction that you are correct, despite appearing to be contradicted by relevant research.

  122. CKavaon 26 Apr 2017 at 4:13 am

    Also, having just read the entire thread your earlier posts do not give the impression that you original argument was that mental illness is a minor factor in a minority of cases. Instead, it reads as if you are implying it is the most important factor that is being unjustly ignored, which is a rather different position from acknowledging that it plays ‘some role’, maybe in only 4% of cases. I know you are insisting this was your original argument and thus you were correct all along (surprise…) but I really don’t find this (re)interpretation convincing. Even now with your suggestion that mass shootings = mental illness you are still half-clinging onto your original argument that mental illness is a major unacknowledged factor in most cases (while simultaneously claiming that was never your argument). It’s impressive mental gymnastics.

  123. Steven Novellaon 26 Apr 2017 at 7:03 am

    There is a very clear practical distinction here – to whom shall we sell guns?

    I would argue we should not sell guns to people who are, at baseline, diagnosably mentally ill (at least certain kinds and degrees of mental illness that would make them a threat to themselves or others).

    This is very different from saying we should not sell guns to anyone who, at any time in their lives, might be pushed to an extreme and irrational act by circumstances (i.e., the entire world population).

  124. Sophieon 26 Apr 2017 at 11:10 am

    tl;dr: What separates us from mass murderers is not extreme circumstances; but rather, extremely inappropriate reactions to universally-experienced stressful stimuli.

    CKava,

    …earlier posts do not give the impression that you original argument was that mental illness is a minor factor in a minority of cases. Instead, it reads as if you are implying it is the most important factor that is being unjustly ignored…

    Roll the tape… the first few times when I spoke about mental illness here I said:

    [about pizzagate] Arguing that one mentally ill person was motivated to do something like that by Alex Jones is a weak argument. It’s like saying that the dark knight shooter was influenced by all the batman posters and stuff in his room. Or that the columbine shooting was motivated by whatever. Or the Orlando shooting was motivated solely by radical Islamic terror, when later we find out he would frequent the club, use gay hook up apps all the time, and he had all sorts of other problems other than an internal homoerotic/homophobia struggle. The common thread in all these attacks is mental health issues. Sometimes people who need professional help, go out and do bad things. Yes if some of them happen to listen to Alex Jones, then technically they get some ideas from him, is he the cause of this violence? No.

    I referenced specific attacks BY NAME. I did not make arguments about all mentally ill people. I’m clearly arguing that batman didn’t push the dark knight shooter, and that ISIS propaganda did not cause the Orlando shooting. In the same way, fake news doesn’t directly cause mass shootings. (Pizzagate is the only shooting so far connected to fake news and no one was injured.)

    If you think these mass shootings are anomalous, go down the list of the worse mass shootings in history, check out the mental health history, legal defenses used and expert analysis.

    It’s important to consider why I said these things. This was in direct response to Daedalus, Rickk and others arguing that infowars exists to radicalize people to commit violent acts. They argued a direct connection and some went as far as to say that the alt right exists for that purpose. They also argued that Alex Jones intentionally incites his viewers to commit violent acts. That he caused the pizzagate shooting etc.

    You may have confused me with someone else here, or not read carefully. Seeing as this discussion is a week old now and has 120+ comments, and this is your first time posting in it, it’s doubtful you’ve been paying attention.

    This was just one vein of my argument against their theories about Alex Jones. I also argued that the alt right exists to cash in on the alternative news narrative. And considering that one of the cofounders of Breitbart is now in the White House advising the president, there are also political motivations to the alt right websites.
    — —

    Steven Novella,

    Ease of access to firearms is just one variable. Yes of course certain people should not have guns. But no it’s not the entire world that acts violently when faced with a mental break down.

    Millions of people go through an emotional crisis/breakdown, as a result of a messy breakup, personal loss or getting fired. Many of them have easy access to weapons (guns, knives, cars). Very few of those individuals go on a killing spree. Essentially all of the ones who go on a killing spree are men. Men who are both more impulsive, (but not diagnosed), and men who have their judgment compromised by a deeply felt emotional grievance.

    Impulsivity is a mental attribute. Some people have more of it than others. If you have a clinical amount you can get diagnosed with a disorder. But we have to consider that there are many undiagnosed people out there who have just not been in the right situation to highlight their issues yet, to force a run in with the law or counseling.

    A grievance is also mental. Many shooters are pushed to the edge after a breakup. There is nothing that really significantly physically happens when your girlfriend breaks up with you. She just walks out. She previously walked out of your place before, but this time is more significant.

    The difference is emotional, mental and completely abstract. She didn’t physically do anything to you, you are free to find a new girl, she didn’t lock you in a cage or beat the crap out of you. She just said goodbye and left the place. It’s the same thing with being fired, what hurts is the mental/emotional worries that come into mind, not the physical reality of the situation.

    Given the fact that millions of people experience the same stimulus and do not go on killing spree, clearly the problem must lie with the exceptional few who snap. Since impulsivity and grievances are completely mental things, we can easily argue that yes there is a significant contribution that these things have on the situation. Highly impulsive individuals, with poor emotional coping mechanisms account for the majority of these acts.

    How many videos are there online of everyday normal interactions, quickly escalating to death threats? I have witnessed a few in my college bar. When push comes to shove, death threads are uttered.

    Men in this culture are taught to be tough and not express their sensitive emotions. They also seek out medical attention less than women and put off going to the doctor. Mental health is also stigmatized. If these men called a mental health hotline and got professional help maybe less shootings would happen?

    In conclusion, everyone at some point in their lives is going to experience the same stimulus that has pushed others to commit mass murder. Some will have a weapon nearby. Very few will act violently. If you have problems with impulsivity and healthy emotional expression, you are more at risk. If you have a mental disorder that highlights those attributes you are at an even higher risk.

    What separates us from mass murderers is not extreme circumstances; but rather, extremely inappropriate reactions to universally-experienced stressful stimuli.

  125. Sophieon 26 Apr 2017 at 11:42 am

    Being socially isolated is also a problem. And highly correlated with many different mental disorders. Maybe mass shooters just need friends. Some social network. A shoulder to cry on. And be told it’s okay to cry.

  126. Sophieon 26 Apr 2017 at 12:54 pm

    Either way, regardless of what you believe, this is a complex issue. Tougher gun control might not help as much as we like think. Many of the firearms used in these attacks are legally purchased, even if you change the laws something like the Aurora shooting would still happen, the man had his place rigged with explosives and stockpiles of firearms, I’m sure he would have had no problem illegally obtaining firearms.

    I think a more compelling argument can be made for increasing mental health services, hotlines and destigmatizing mental health issues. Community outreach, more counseling at schools and just watching out for warning signs and following up with people. Any overall change to the culture, right down to rethinking how we cover these events on the news.

    The problem is not just due to easy access to guns. Lots of places have guns. Most American gun owners do not do these things. The NRA has a small point. The NRA gets a lot of stuff wrong though and feeds the gun loving, shoot and ask questions later, culture in this country.

    It’s like black lives matter. Cops have had guns for a while. They need guns. Is the reason there are systematic problems with their mistreatment of black people, because they have access to guns? Should cops not have guns? Or do they need some emotional counseling, better training, sensitivity training?

    Cops with guns aren’t the problem. Neither is the stimuli. We have all seen the videos of unarmed black men being shot. Not all cops shoot when presented with the same stimuli. The problem is not with cops in general or their access to firearms. The problem lies within the small subset of this group that is exceptional, that reacts and kills a man who is unarmed and posing no threat to anyone. This small subset is also just the symptom of a larger problem, that has to do with the culture and training. There are many poorly trained officers out there right now, who will over react to neutral/ambiguous stimuli to a fatal result. Accidents happen, but they aren’t all accidents. There was a reason why the former administration took this issue seriously and was in the process of reforming many police departments. They found evidence systematic racial bias and corrupt police departments.

  127. CKavaon 26 Apr 2017 at 8:39 pm

    Sophie,

    Cross-cultural evidence strongly suggests that the relative ease of gaining access to guns in a society is a significant predictor of gun related violence. There are other factors certainly, but comparing the US with other developed Western countries the US is a dramatic outlier in relation to gun violence.

    I constantly find it surprising that Americans are so reluctant to acknowledge what appears to be such an obvious relationship but it seems that the right to bear arms has been elevated to something of a sacred value in American culture. So that any suggestion that having guns available to the public is likely damaging to the safety of people living in that society is treated almost as if it is a kind of blasphemy.

    It also remains a false dichotomy to suggest that the option is improve mental health services or introduce stronger regulations on gun ownership. Both options can be pursued independently and, moreover, as apparently everyone in the thread agrees mental illness is not actually the dominant factor in the majority of cases of gun related violence or mass shootings. So I don’t quite follow the logic being advanced that the No.1 priority to stop either mass shootings/gun related violence is to improve mental health services.

  128. Sophieon 26 Apr 2017 at 9:03 pm

    Since you are not an American you probably don’t see that it’s much easier to pursue literally any other avenue. Taking people’s guns away, or passing laws to restrict the type of weapons they can have access to, is met with widespread resistance across all levels of government. Congress just repealed an Obama era law that prevented people from
    Getting guns who had mental disorders so severe that they could not manage their own finances.

    http://thehill.com/regulation/317634-house-republicans-block-obama-era-gun-rule

    This is the country we live in.

    The Trump people have apparently expressed interest in upping some mental health and addiction services, so for the next 4-8 years we should probably focus on those avenues. Gun control legislation isn’t going to get passed any time soon, it will probably get loosened.

    I wish there were easy solutions and no compromises.

  129. CKavaon 26 Apr 2017 at 9:13 pm

    I see that Sophie.

    I understand fully that for at least around half the population the mere suggestion that guns should be better controlled, let alone banned is a red line that cannot be crossed.

    I actually think it is a terrible tragedy because the people who suffer most from the prevalence of guns in the US are US citizens. So it is in many respects a self-inflicted wound, and one that is exacerbated by politically motivated bans on various aspects of research relating to guns.

    I can see the pragmatic value in focusing on issues where there is the potential for some traction, so on those grounds I can understand advocating to focus on things like mental health provision. Unfortunately, such measures offer no real solution to the problem. To an outsider the situation in the US is something akin to an individual repeatedly stabbing themselves, getting sad about all the blood and applying small band-aids to the edge of the wounds before returning back to the business of self-stabbing. I don’t intend that analogy to be crass, I genuinely see it as a tragedy, especially when children are involved.

  130. Sophieon 26 Apr 2017 at 11:42 pm

    I disagree that trying to change the culture offers no real solutions, I think it does. Especially given the history. Mass shootings like this are relatively new phenomena. Fully automatic weapons were previously legal, and we didn’t have school shootings and other mass shootings constantly. The most deadly attacks have happened in recent years.

    What’s happened in the last few decades is a dramatic shift in the culture. People who want to go out in a blaze of glory can now do it, and they know they will get infamy and attention for it. I really believe that if you take away the guns without fixing this cultural issue people will just improvise weapons or illegally acquire firearms.

  131. CKavaon 27 Apr 2017 at 1:30 am

    You might be right but there seems to be decent evidence from other countries that gun bans substantially reduce, if not almost entirely eliminate, mass shootings. The UK and Australia banned most firearms in 1996 after mass shootings and gun violence deaths/suicides dropped substantially. The US again stands out as a severe outlier in this regard when compared against other Western democracies and I don’t think it can be explained by things like access to mass media and the 24 hour news cycle because they also exist in other countries that experience nothing like what America is going through. You can never prevent people from improvising weapons, using things like knives/cars to attack people, but you can reduce gun related deaths by reducing their prevalence in a society.

  132. goldfinchon 28 Apr 2017 at 8:38 pm

    Well, the jury found in favor of the ex-wife.

    This, from the closing argument from the ex wife’s lawyers:
    “Mr. Jones is like a cult leader. And we’ve seen the horrific damage cult leaders do to their followers.”

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